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The Language Inside [Kindle Edition]

Holly Thompson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.99
Kindle Price: $7.99
You Save: $10.00 (56%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

   Emma Karas was raised in Japan; it's the country she calls home. But when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, Emma's family moves to a town outside Lowell, Massachusetts, to stay with Emma's grandmother while her mom undergoes treatment.

   Emma feels out of place in the United States.She begins to have migraines, and longs to be back in Japan. At her grandmother's urging, she volunteers in a long-term care center to help Zena, a patient with locked-in syndrome, write down her poems. There, Emma meets Samnang, another volunteer, who assists elderly Cambodian refugees. Weekly visits to the care center, Zena's poems, dance, and noodle soup bring Emma and Samnang closer, until Emma must make a painful choice: stay in Massachusetts, or return home early to Japan.



Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up-Emma, a 15-year-old American raised in Japan, feels adrift when she is transplanted to her grandmother's home in Massachusetts so her mother can undergo breast-cancer treatment. Though she is not Asian, she considers Japan her home. But to her surprise, she starts putting down roots in her new home by volunteering at a long-term care center and navigating a tentative relationship with another volunteer, a Cambodian American boy named Samnang. Emma's story weaves together a variety of disparate topics, including reverse culture shock, cancer, the Cambodian refugee experience, dance, volunteerism, and teen alcoholism. The number of themes could seem overwhelming, but is made manageable by the spare beauty and clarity of free verse. The format flows naturally from the plot, as Emma is a poet herself, and her volunteer service involves helping a stroke victim cope through the exercise of writing poetry. Today's teens, said to volunteer at a higher rate than previous generations, will see themselves in Emma as she looks beyond herself to understand and help others even while grappling with her own concerns. She is driven to help in the aftermath of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, and readers will cheer her on as she faces the challenge of contributing to relief efforts from a distance. Her longing for Japan will also resonate with those familiar with the country and its culture, as Thompson captures perfectly the feeling of belonging elsewhere. A sensitive and compelling read that will inspire teens to contemplate how they can make a difference.-Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CAα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Emma has lived in Japan nearly all of her life and spoke Japanese before she spoke English. But when Emma’s mother develops breast cancer, her parents choose to move to Massachusetts for medical care, and Emma finds herself entering high school in a completely foreign world. With a little pushing from her grandmother, Emma becomes a volunteer poetry helper at a long-term care center. Another volunteer, a boy named Samnang, becomes Emma’s first American friend. A number of story lines emerge, but the fluid nature of this novel’s free verse allows these subplots to mesh together like a series of linked poems. Thompson beautifully conveys Emma’s Japanese sensibilities in the structure of the verses. For example, Emma often expresses herself through silence, conveyed through well-placed breaks. Interspersed throughout are poems that Emma finds, which Thompson references in an appendix. Like Ron Koertge’s Shakespeare Bats Cleanup (2003), the appeal of poetry slips easily into the flow of this story. Grades 7-10. --Diane Colson

Product Details

  • File Size: 5477 KB
  • Print Length: 532 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385739796
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (May 29, 2013)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A9ET6PM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #965,865 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Emma, though American, has lived in Japan all her life, and considers it her home. When her mother becomes ill, the family moves to America until her treatment is done and they can move back. Emma misses everything about Japan and feels like a fish out of water with her school mates and everyone's American ways. After she starts volunteering, she meets Samnang and they grow close.

There is a lot happening in this book - earthquakes, tsunamis, cultural differences, cancer, death, friendship, first love, migraines, PTSD, war, family relationships and obligations... Sometimes I felt like it was maybe one issue too many, but I think Holly Thompson did a pretty good job of keeping everything moving and meshing it all together into one fluent story.

I really liked Emma, she was kind and thoughtful and so nice. There was nary a sign of teenage brattiness to her. She had lovely parents, who cared about each other and talked to each other and their kids. Emma's little brother didn't play a big part, but he seemed nice enough. You could call this your average nice family. I also liked Samnang, though I found him to be a bit on the quiet side for me. I loved the woman in the nursing home Emma started visiting, Zena. She was bedridden and unable to move anything except her eyes. Even with those limitations, you could tell she had a great attitude and a fun sense of humor.

The words were written in free verse form with very little punctuation, and only line breaks to help keep everything in order. The times when someone was talking were indicated by italics, not quotation marks. It only took a page or two for me to get into the flow of the words, and after that, I zipped through, able to follow along perfectly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
I really enjoyed The Language Inside and thought that it was a beautiful read. I was not expecting the book to be written in verse, but it worked well with the story, especially since Emma spends part of the book writing poety. I was able to read The Language Inside very quickly because there weren't many words on each page and the pages flew by. Even with less words, the author is able to present a well-rounded story with developed and interesting characters. I loved reading about Japanese and Cambodian cultures and I felt like I learned a lot. This book would be great for a book club, fans of poetry and people who like to read about different cultures.
Student Reviewer: swimmer1403
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous Verse-Told Story January 10, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I absolutely loved this book. It was so gentle and soft, like reading poetry while learning a deeply intricate story. The descriptions of nature, running, Emma's feelings, her internal wars, were so spot on, so wonderfully unfolded. It was just beautiful to read from start to finish.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Contemporary; Full of Drama & Redemption April 1, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
The Language Inside was a a beautiful creative look into Japanese culture and the impact poetry can have on people. A unique mix of poetry, dance, family, and friendship inside a dramatic and romantic contemporary, this novel is interesting and creative beyond belief. An insightful look into Japanese culture, life after the tsunami, trauma, and many other problems, this novel not only is enjoyable, but also teaches many morals.

A nuanced novel in verse that explores identity in a multicultural world.

Emma Karas was raised in Japan; it's the country she calls home. But when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, Emma's family moves to a town outside Lowell, Massachusetts, to stay with Emma's grandmother while her mom undergoes treatment.

Emma feels out of place in the United States.She begins to have migraines, and longs to be back in Japan. At her grandmother's urging, she volunteers in a long-term care center to help Zena, a patient with locked-in syndrome, write down her poems. There, Emma meets Samnang, another volunteer, who assists elderly Cambodian refugees. Weekly visits to the care center, Zena's poems, dance, and noodle soup bring Emma and Samnang closer, until Emma must make a painful choice: stay in Massachusetts, or return home early to Japan.

The plot of this novel was magnificent. It flowed nicely as it followed the young Emma as she left her home in Japan to live in America as her mom has to have her breast removed and participate in treatments due to breast cancer. Emma is faced with many of the usual struggles, like making new friends, missing her old friends, and dealing with family, friendship, and possible relationship problems.
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More About the Author

Holly Thompson was raised in New England and earned a B.A. in biology from Mount Holyoke College and an M.A. from New York University's Creative Writing Program. Longtime resident of Japan, she teaches creative writing at Yokohama City University. Holly's fiction often relates to Japan and Asia. Her YA verse novel The Language Inside (Delacorte/​Random House, May 2013) deals with language both spoken and unspoken and, through poetry that crosses boundaries, connects a Japan-raised American girl with a Cambodian-American boy and the patients they assist in a long-term care center. In her YA verse novel Orchards (Delacorte/​Random House, 2011), which received the 2012 APALA Asian/​Pacific American Award for Literature, Kana, a half Japanese and half Jewish-American girl, is sent to spend the summer with Shizuoka relatives after the death of a classmate. Her novel Ash (Stone Bridge Press, 2001), set in Kagoshima and Kyoto, has been recommended as a teaching tool in high school and university classrooms studying Japan, Asia and intercultural issues. Her picture book The Wakame Gatherers (Shen's Books, 2007) depicts a bicultural girl who goes seaweed gathering with her Japanese and American grandmothers. Holly edited, and wrote the foreword to, Tomo: Friendship through Fiction--An Anthology of Japan Teen Fiction, a young adult anthology of Japan-related fiction to benefit teens in the earthquake- and tsunami-affected areas of Tohoku. For more information about Tomo, visit the Tomo blog. Holly's short stories, poetry and articles have been published in magazines and journals in the United States and Japan and anthologized in The Broken Bridge: Fiction from Expatriates in Literary Japan (Stone Bridge Press, 1997). She is a regular contributor to Wingspan, the ANA inflight magazine. Holly serves as Regional Advisor of the Tokyo chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI Tokyo).

Holly Thompson is represented by Jamie Weiss Chilton of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Follow Holly Thompson on Twitter: @​hatbooks


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