From School Library Journal
Grade 5–8—Twelve-year-old Angela Kato is not thrilled at the prospect of leaving her home in a San Francisco suburb in order to spend the summer with her disapproving Grandma Michi, her strange Aunt Janet, and her good-natured grandfather in their unattractive, crowded house in smog-filled Los Angeles. Her time will be spent folding origami "1001-cranes displays," considered good luck for weddings, for her grandparents' business. Besides missing her friends, Angela knows that her parents are separating again, and that her dad has already rented an apartment. Once in LA, Angela meets several new people who have burdens of their own. A younger girl, Rachel, has just been adopted, and Angela observes that her grandmother acts far more lovingly to this child than she does to Angela. Next door, two sisters-in-law seem to hate each other even while they are involved in planning a celebration for their parents-in-law. Unexpectedly, Angela meets a boy who wants to date her, and she tries to keep him a secret from her watchful family. Her colorful, bold voice captures the excitement of her first love as well as the anxiety of not understanding the many secrets of the adults around her. By experiencing her family's support, by learning about her Japanese heritage, and by acknowledging the various ways that love is expressed, Angela emerges into a strong, caring person.—Lillian Hecker, Town of Pelham Public Library, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
When her parents’ marriage starts to implode in northern California, 12-year-old Angela is shipped off to Los Angeles to spend the summer with her maternal, Japanese American grandparents and aunt. At first, Angela resents the move, especially the hours spent in her grandparents’ “1001 Cranes” room, where the family creates elaborate origami displays for sale. She also struggles to communicate with her taciturn family, particularly her grandmother. Gradually, though, she finds comfort and new confidence as she masters the intricate paper folding techniques and discovers new ways to reach out to those around her. Hirahara, best known for her adult mysteries, offers a quiet, contemplative story that captures a girl’s first steps into adolescence amid family grief and reconciliation. The story’s gentle pace and sometimes superfluous detail may frustrate some readers, but Angela’s questions about her family history and Japanese American culture, her acute sensitivity, and her heartache will resonate with young people of all backgrounds, particularly those who, like Angela, yearn “to be the glue that fastens . . . parents together again.” Grades 4-7. --Gillian Engberg