Orchards

After a classmate commits suicide, Kana Goldberg—a half-Japanese, half-Jewish American—wonders who is responsible. She and her cliquey friends said some thoughtless things to the girl. Hoping that Kana will reflect on her behavior, her parents pack her off to her mother’s ancestral home in Japan for the summer. There Kana spends hours under the hot sun tending to her family’s mikan orange groves.Kana’s mixed heritage makes it hard to fit in at first, especially under the critical eye of her traditional grandmother, who has never accepted Kana’s father. But as the summer unfolds, Kana gets to know her relatives, Japan, and village culture, and she begins to process the pain and guilt she feels about the tragedy back home. Then news about a friend sends her world spinning out of orbit all over again.

See the review at WOW Review, Volume IV, Issue 4

A Faraway Island

Torn from their homeland, two Jewish sisters find refuge in Sweden. It’s the summer of 1939. Two Jewish sisters from Vienna12-year-old Stephie Steiner and 8-year-old Nellieare sent to Sweden to escape the Nazis. They expect to stay there six months, until their parents can flee to Amsterdam; then all four will go to America. But as the world war intensifies, the girls remain, each with her own host family, on a rugged island off the western coast of Sweden. Nellie quickly settles in to her new surroundings. She’s happy with her foster family and soon favors the Swedish language over her native German. Not so for Stephie, who finds it hard to adapt; she feels stranded at the end of the world, with a foster mother who’s as cold and unforgiving as the island itself. Her main worry, though, is her parentsand whether she will ever see them again. From the Hardcover edition.

See the review at WOW Review, Volume 3, Issue 2

The Traitor Game

Michael and his friend Francis share a secret passion for Evgard, the fantasy world they have created together. But then Michael finds a note in his locker, revealing that their secret is out. He immediately suspects Francis, and tries to get revenge by telling the school bully–known affectionately as Shitley–that Francis is gay, which guarantees Francis is in for a pounding. But did Francis really betray his friend? Or is Michael really the traitor? This gripping account of a troubled friendship unfolds both as a contemporary story and as a compelling glimpse into the world of Evgard.