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2019 Winner - Freeman Book Award for Young Adult/Middle School Literature
When Kaede's world is thrown upside down by a car crash that killed his mother, he has no idea how to cope with the loss. After making several bad choices that could have gotten him into serious trouble, he is faced with a summer assignment to define what home means to him in order to avoid repeating seventh grade. He isn't sure if he fits with his friends in Vancouver, B.C., any longer, and living with his grandfather doesn't feel right either. Kaede ventures to Tokyo, a city that was his home until his parents split when he was three, in hopes of reconnecting with his estranged father. To his disappointment, Kaede's much older half-brother is the one waiting for him. As the summer progresses without any word from their father, Kaede isn't sure he will ever understand the meaning of home. Chapman weaves a tale of a boy who is broken and lost, trying to redefine who he is in what is left of his family. Scenic descriptions are vivid and unique, and blend with frequent Japanese terms throughout to take the reader on a virtual experience of Tokyo's sights, sounds, and culture. Kaede's brother Shoma is a star of the story as a calm and stable force for the protagonist, whether he trusts him or not.