Author:  Holly Thompson
ISBN:  978-0-385-73977-1

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This amazing book is a new step in YA fiction.  The author writes the story in what is called "spare verse" - where the words on each page look almost like they are in the format of poetry.  What this does is offers a more dramatic look at each word and phrase, and somehow pulls the reader deeper into the subject matter by eliminating the words and targeting straight to the heart of the theme.
The theme of this fantastic YA is about a young girl and her clique of eighth-grade friends.  At the beginning of our story, the friends are hit with an unbelievable tragedy.  Because of a misunderstanding that led to "mean" text messages and such, a girl named Ruth left a note on her bureau, walked into the Osgoods' Orchard, and in "a grove of Macs and Cortlands that were still tight-fists" and not yet in bloom, Ruth tied a slipknot and hung herself from a tree.
Kama is one of the girls who "danced" around a girl named Lisa.  Lisa was what everyone
would see as the popular girl with a lot of friends.  She was also in love with a boy named Jake.  when Lisa saw Jake and Ruth sitting together and laughing outside the school, she and her friends (including Kama) decided to be mean and nasty to Ruth in order to get her away from Lisa's dream guy.

As all the girls are sent away to think about the horrible thing they've done - their uncaring ways that made a young girl take her own life - Kama is sent back to her mother's ancestral home in Japan.  There, in the rice paddies, bamboo trees, and green lines of rice, Kama must deal with her Aunt, Uncle and cousins as she attends a school and works until she feels as if she's about to collapse in the citrus groves.  She stands in the heat listening to the call of crows thinking almost every minute about what she could've done to prevent Ruth's demise.  While immersed in the intense physical labor, Kama asks herself questions and tries to understand the "whys" and slowly "sees" the hardship that Ruth was under every day of her life.
As Mount Fuji juts through the clouds, Kama has to come to terms with the situation and struggle to understand the next tragedy that comes to pass because of Ruth's suicide.  This novel is so amazingly poignant.  Not only are the locations beautiful, but the language, customs and heritage of the Japanese family are told with amazing detail that not only allows the reader to walk away with a feeling of redemption and change, but also discover what the world is like in other places and how our similarities and differences can make us one.
The topic of bullying and how these actions can change life in an instant is told with sensitivity and should be read by every teenager going through the most difficult years of their lives.  Bravo!

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