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Himawari House Kindle Edition
Winner of the 2023 Asian/Pacific American Award for Young Adult Fiction Literature
Winner of the 2022 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers' Literature
A 2021 Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year
A 2021 School Library Best Books of the Year
A young adult graphic novel about three foreign exchange students and the pleasures, and difficulties, of adjusting to living in Japan.
Living in a new country is no walk in the park—Nao, Hyejung, and Tina can all attest to that. The three of them became fast friends through living together in the Himawari House in Tokyo and attending the same Japanese cram school. Nao came to Japan to reconnect with her Japanese heritage, while Hyejung and Tina came to find freedom and their own paths. Though each of them has her own motivations and challenges, they all deal with language barriers, being a fish out of water, self discovery, love, and family.
"There is humor and charm in the intersection of languages and understandings. Harmony Becker's story resonates with humanity and deep wisdom. Himawari House is a tantalizing peek into the future of our global society." ― George Takei, author of New York Times-bestseller They Called Us Enemy
"Becker’s art is intricate and rich at times, quick and playful at others. The story will tug at your heartstrings and make you laugh. All told, “Himawari House” will comfort young readers who are imagining their lives ahead and trigger nostalgic joy in older readers looking back." ―New York Times
"This emotionally and culturally rich YA story that puts the author's range of talents on full display...adventures rendered with a masterful hand and an impressive ear for dialogue." ―Washington Post
"This work exemplifies what the graphic novel format can achieve. An unforgettable story of personal growth in an exquisitely rendered setting." ―Kirkus, starred review
"This lighthearted yet serious-minded journey of discovery will delight, educate, and challenge teens interested in language and cultural exploration." ―School Library Journal, starred review
"[Becker] makes her stupendous solo debut in what will prove to one of the best graphic titles of the year....Audiences can expect absolute delight." ―Booklist, starred review
"...An immersive graphic novel that explores cross-cultural identity and the power of language to separate and to unite." ―The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review
"In this stunningly layered graphic novel debut, Becker crafts a warmly actualized world in which the multiplicities of diasporic Asian identity are examined and held close." ―Publisher's Weekly, starred review
"Both hilarious and tender situations abound as this insightful graphic novel explores, among other topics, how language can either separate or bring people together." ―Horn Book, starred review
About the Author
- ASIN : B09JMVZHXH
- Publisher : First Second (November 9, 2021)
- Publication date : November 9, 2021
- Language : English
- File size : 354298 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Not enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Not Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Not Enabled
- Sticky notes : Not Enabled
- Print length : 384 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #895,017 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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Nao was born in Japan, but moved to America as a young child and lost most of her Japanese language skills. For a gap year between high school and college she moves to Japan to take language lessons and reconnect with her extended family and culture. In Himawari House, her home base for the year, she’ll connect with housemates Hyejung and Tina (from Korea and Singapore, respectively), and Japanese brothers Shinsan and Masaki. The girls bond immediately over shared food, Japanese language school, and exchange student experiences. Following the occupants of Himawari House as they experience various coming of age moments is both bittersweet and a vivid reminder (or reflection, depending on the age of the reader) of the trials of surviving your late teenage years and early twenties. Becker’s text lovingly explores the depths of each character and their emotions, and combined with manga-style illustrations, has created a standout graphic novel.
I know others have said this in reviews, but Himawari House authentically captures what it is like to study abroad, and the range of experiences you might have as someone who doesn’t know the primary language of the place you are living in. That true-to-life feeling of confusion, excitement, only catching half of a conversation, and muddling through while your brain is working overdrive hit my memories and heart hard. It also made me an instant fan of the inhabitants of Himawari House and author-artist Becker.
Favorite bits: elderly neighbor Baachan, who is lonely now that her husband has passed away, and makes the young crew of Himawari House a delicious dinner. And I loved Nao’s time with her family and flashbacks to her childhood, and the funny little side illustrations (not true panels) that show characters’ emotions – freaking out over something a girl or boy said, internal thoughts, etc. I also enjoyed the musing on food, the moments of introspection followed by group activities and fellow-feeling, the expressions of the characters – basically, I liked it all a whole lot!!
As mentioned above, Becker's style has a distinct manga flavor, and the backmatter of the book indicates that her black and white art was all completed digitally in Clip Studio Paint. I was impressed by the variety of textures that contribute to the scenes – the linework is excellent, and it makes small details in the setting, and facial expressions especially, pop. In addition, the lettering is done in whatever language is spoken on-page, and translated below in English if the character understands. This means that sometimes there are whole parts of conversations that the character, and thus the reader, just don’t get. Decisions and pieces like these feel the most representative of a real life language learning situation.
In all, Himawari House is a note-perfect rendering of what studying abroad/leaving the nest/entering adulthood feels like. It’s a sensitive, funny, and sweet ode to cultural and linguistic confusion, friendship, and finding oneself.
Recommended for: fans of Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, contemporary graphic novel readers, and anyone who likes quiet fiction that speaks to the heart.
This graphic novel was extremely heartwarming while it also tackled deep issues that the characters were facing. While each of the characters was facing a different problem, Becker did an amazing job at creating a bond between the characters which led to a great representation of friendship.
I wanna talk about one of the main character’s big problems in the book, she is bilingual but because she grew up in America she doesn’t know a lot of Japanese. While I don’t know how this must feel as I do not speak anything but English, I was able to get a feel for how it must be because of the images and dialogue. When the character was listening to another character speak and she didn’t know what they were saying in Japanese, the words would become fuzzy in the picture or gaps in the words. This was a great way to show that our character didn’t know what was happening while also showing me, the reader, what the struggle is like. As the story goes on and the main character learns more Japanese we see less and less of this fuzziness which shows she’s beginning to understand more, I thought it was a great concept to include. If you don’t know Japanese or Korean (as Korean is also spoken in this book) don’t worry, you won’t miss anything. Everything that our characters understand has subtitles. If there are no subtitles and you’re confused well congratulations because the character also has no clue what is being said. Like I said, a great concept.
I found the illustrations really enjoyable. They are in black and white so if you’re only a fan of color this might not be the one for you. While the story deals with deep issues there is also a lot of humor in it and this is depicted in the illustrations and dialogue. Some of the illustrations reminded me of anime when the characters make super weird faces… I don’t know how else to describe it so I hope that makes sense.
As I said before, there are a lot of deeper topics talked about throughout the book as each character is fighting their own battles. One thing I wish had been different was having separate books for each of the characters or even a longer book. Since all the characters were going through something and we were seeing all of their stories unfold, sometimes the stories were done quickly and we didn’t get to see it unfold in a lot of detail or it got jumbled with another character’s story and became confusing. I just wish more time had been spent on all characters because I did like them all but felt like some didn’t get as much time. The pacing just felt off at times.
Should you read this book? Absolutely. This is a great graphic novel that depicts issues of feeling like you don’t belong, the pressure of fitting a mold, unrequited feelings, failure, but also strong female relationships. Honestly, it was so good. It didn’t end how I thought it would and I might just cry about it…again. Pick this up immediately, thanks!
Top reviews from other countries
Diasporic Identity Crisisに悩む人もそうでない人も、総ての若者と元若者にお勧めします。