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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Triple Snapshots: Cynthia Kadohata

Triple Snapshots is when I give a paragraph description on the impressions of books I get. Today’s theme for my Triple Snapshot feature is exactly as the title indicates. Now with an added 3-Sentence Summary feature in which I summarize the book.

Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

3SS: It's the 1950s and the Takeshimas are moving into the US South. The core of the story is that between two sisters, as they grow and make sense of their world. What will Katie do when tragedy strikes her family?

Kira-Kira is a wonderful tale of the bond between two sisters, and growing up. Katie was a wonder of a protagonist to be with, and I simply fell in love with Kadohata’s voice in this book. Kadohata has that ability to capture young pre-adolescent voice perfectly without ever oversimplifying or sounding fake, and I was thoroughly charmed. As with all Kadohata books, she leaves you crushed and heartbroken as she brings her cast through tremendous trials, so I do warn for those especially teary-eyed to keep a box of tissue at hand, but the experience of reading such a fine MG novel will be well worth all the tears. I recommend this book to anyone across all ages. I freely admit I lent this book out to my young little sister and she does not seemed scarred by the experience besides wailing at the ending, and she told me she loved it, so there you go. Even non Kadohata-biased people liked it, so EVERYONE JUST READ IT NOW.

Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata

3SS: Cracker, our doggy protagonist, becomes separated from her boy and is sent to the army to be trained as a military dog to scout out bombs and other artilleries. She forms a strong and lasting bond with her soldier companion as they warm up to each other through the training. And then, the two of them get set to the front lines for war...

If anyone could make me a believer of animal companionship tales, Kadohata can. I never cared for stories like Watership Down or Redwall or what you will, but Kadohata’s voice, once again, charmed my socks off. You’re reading this and you feel like this author just gets dogs completely, so convincing is her voice. The war in Vietnam was indeed rather sterilized in this novel, which I admit is problematic, (I’m still waiting for that future novel Kadohata will HOPEFULLY write that does the Vietnamese people who fought on the other side of the war justice, but if this glossed over war aspect bothers you, she does better in her latest novel A Million Shades of Grey) but I say give it a go anyways, especially if you’re a dog lover.

Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata

3SS: Shelby lives with her gorgeous mother and many half-sisters. She cannot imagine life outside of her family, but one day her mother is admitted to the hospital and the sisters get separated as they're all sent packing to live with their biological fathers. How will the sisters reunite to become a family once more?

Oh, Outside Beauty. How much I wanted to like you, and how much did you just not succeed for me. It’s my only Kadohata read so far that turned up disappointing. I suspect it didn’t work because Kadohata didn’t quite manage to balance out together all the elements of this book into the story coherently? Certainly this book has a larger main cast than her other books, and I felt like the depiction of the relationship between all the sisters ended up faltering, and because her character interactions were not quite on par, her message on beauty and family fell short. Also, this is the one book wherein she did not quite manage to grasp at her protagonist’s voice quite right… And I’m not sure if it’s because she’s better at the MG-style voice than YA-voice, or if it’s just because the protagonist wasn’t as well rounded as she could have been. There were elements that I liked, and moments where Kadohata’s voice shines out (Coffee scene! *giggles*) but on a whole this book didn’t work for me. Perhaps die hard Kadohata fans should give this a go to complete their Kadohata book reads, but for newcomers to Kadohata’s novels I suggest you set this one aside and pick up any of her other titles instead.


Jenn (Books At Midnight) said...

Wow, I have never even HEARD of this author. I'll definitely have to check them out, especially since I was a HARDCORE Redwall fan back in elementary school. No joke. As in I had an informal and ongoing Brian Jacques contest with this other guy in my class all year. Thanks for the recommendations! :)

Ah Yuan // wingstodust said...


OMFG YOU HAVEN'T HEARD OF CYNTHIA KADOHATA?!?! YOU ARE TOTALLY MISSING OUT. LIKE, YOU MUST RUN AND GET A COPY OF HER BOOKS RIGHT NOW TO MAKE UP FOR ALL THAT LOST TIME. *coughs* Seriously though, one of the most amazing MG authors out there, you have to HAVE TO read at least one book by her. and lol if you love those animal companion stories you will fall in LOVE with Cracker and/or A Million Shades of Grey. Gogogogoogo read her now! /overly excited fangirl

. Ruz . said...

I'm following you. =) My book home is at Ruz's Bookshelves