Overview from Barnes and Noble:
kira-kira (kee ra kee ra): glittering; shining Glittering. That’s how Katie Takeshima’s sister, Lynn, makes everything seem. The sky is kira-kira because its color is deep but see-through at the same time. The sea is kira-kira for the same reason. And so are people’s eyes. When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, it’s Lynn who explains to her why people stop on the street to stare. And it’s Lynn who, with her special way of viewing the world, teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow. But when Lynn becomes desperately ill, and the whole family begins to fall apart, it is up to Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always something glittering — kira-kira — in the future.
I read this book in the last few days. It’s part of my Children’s Lit reading list for sabbatical. This one, however, pulled me in and kept me coming back. I thought about these characters when I wasn’t with them, and was fully satisfied at the end, though I know I’ll miss Katie and Lynn, the primary players in this book.
The protagonist Katie sees life through honest eyes. She’s loving but not a push-over, and her love for her parents while still seeing them through somewhat objective eyes is well-crafted, especially for such a young narrator. Perhaps only Katie’s older sister Lynn is nearly flawless (but certainly not entirely), but considering all that happens in this story, that works, too. All this weaves itself into unforgettable characters. We know these people we live among on the pages of this book.
Yes, it deserves the Newbery. It’s lyrical in a beautiful and simple way. Though there aren’t big action scenes in the plot, the story is the arc of life and death, and an ability to survive and make your own happiness in spite of life’s overwhelming pain. I’ll recommend this book again and again.