Ema is half American, half Japanese, so she feels like she doesn’t belong anywhere, because she’s half-and-half. Her mother is pregnant with her little sister, and Ema’s parents decide they and Ema should go and visit Ema’s Japanese grandparents. While Ema is in Japan she attends a Japanese school and meets a boy named Masa, who is always very mean to her. Ema’s Japanese grandparents are having trouble keeping Ema’s mother comfortable in her pregnancy. Ema has to learn how to navigate all the problems that come from not really fitting in and the mean boy at school, as well as deal with her mother’s family problems.
Upstairs, Mom pulls back the ties of my cotton dress close to my body. Downstairs, Obaasan loosens them.
The book is all written in blank verse, which is unusual. Everything was written from Ema’s point of view, and the free verse presented her thoughts as she was thinking them, but it made the book a little hard to read, and seemed less like a story; it made grasping Ema’s feelings difficult. You do feel like you can understand Ema, but you can’t really get lost in the story. You can get a very vague idea of where Ema is, and her environment, but mostly the book is about Ema’s thoughts and feelings.
Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu and Sonia Chaghatzbanian is an interesting book that will take you into Ema’s mind and challenge your ideas of how a story can be told, and it is worth reading, although it is a very different kind of book.