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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Paper Wishes is about a girl so traumatized by grief and guilt when her family is forced from their home that she goes mute. It follows the government's relocation of Japanese American families to internment camps and probes themes of loss, healing, endurance, justice, and hope. Danger and violence skulk around the edges -- armed soldiers, reports of a deadly riot, and persistent uncertainty and unease -- but the story is tightly focused on the bonds between 10-year-old Manami and those closest to her.
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What's the Story?
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Manami and her Japanese American neighbors are ordered to leave their homes on Bainbridge Island near Seattle and relocate to a dusty "prison-village." A friend plans to take in her dog, Yujiin, but Manami tries to sneak him under her coat. Yujiin is discovered and taken from her on the mainland. Wracked with guilt for leaving Yujiin alone and feeling terribly homesick, Manami stops talking. An understanding teacher supplies her with paper and pencils, and Manami puts her thoughts to paper with pictures of home, the ocean, and Yujiin. She writes wishes for Yujiin to find her, but other dogs come to camp instead. While her wishes remain unanswered, Manami must decide whether to stay paralyzed or find a way to move on.
Is It Any Good?
This gentle novel lays bare the heartbreak of Japanese Americans during World War II. It's both an illuminating look at a terrible time in U.S. history and a meditation on loss, grief, and healing. PAPER WISHES doesn't shrink from painful emotions: There are no easy answers or happy-ever-after endings here, but the light that emerges from the gloom shines brightly.
In her debut novel, Lois Sepahban writes with a rhythmic, poetic voice. Spare sentences echo the desolation of the Manzanar camp and Manami's spirit. She and her grandfather have an especially tender understanding through their shared grief for Yujiin and home, as well as his mourning for his late wife. Manami has great strength, even in her sorrow -- her deeply affecting story will stay with readers long after they finish this insightful novel.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the story's ending. Is it happy, sad, bittersweet? Do you find it satisfying?
How do you think your family would cope if you had to undergo an experience like Manami's family?
If someone close to you was as sad as Manami, how would you try to help?
- Author: Lois Sepahban
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, History
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
- Publication date: January 5, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 192
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, Kindle
- Last updated: July 13, 2017
Our Editors Recommend
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