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Orchards by [Thompson, Holly]
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Orchards Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Length: 338 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Age Level: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and up

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In Manhattan, Kanako Goldberg says she is “Japlish,” part Russian Jewish, part Japanese, and she tries hard to make it into her eighth-grade’s in-crowd. Then Ruth, a bipolar classmate, hangs herself, and Kanako’s parents send her to spend the summer working on her grandparents’ fruit farm in a Japanese village, where she confronts her guilt about following her bitchy classmate’s behavior, and she talks to Ruth in her head. The story is purposive, and readers may be slowed by the long, detailed passages about local culture. But Kanako’s urgent teen voice, written in rapid free verse and illustrated with occasional black-and-white sketches, will hold readers with its nonreverential family story. Kanako’s bossy grandmother is no sweet comfort, always nagging Kanako about her big butt, but she does give good advice about comforting friends back home. The spare poetry about place (“silent / as the night shadow / climbs Mount Fuji”) mixes with jokes about giving spirits GPS-activated cell phones, and readers will want to talk about the big issues, especially the guilt of doing nothing. Grades 7-10. --Hazel Rochman


Starred Review, School Library Journal, March 2011:
"The narrative is rich in authentic cultural detail and is complemented by attractive woodcut illustrations of Japanese imagery to evoke the story’s setting. Thompson has crafted an exquisite, thought-provoking story of grief and healing that will resonate with teen readers and give them much to discuss."

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 4682 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (February 22, 2011)
  • Publication Date: February 22, 2011
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,071,365 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Orchards is an amazing little book about guilt, healing, family, and life, among other things. It is written entirely in free verse, so it reads quickly and easily even though it touches on some heavy subjects such as suicide and body image.

Kana is an easily likable and sympathetic character. In the aftermath of a classmate's suicide, she feels guilt for things that she didn't do, things she didn't know, things that in hindsight she feels that she should have done or known. But at the same time that she is processing her own failures where this girl is concerned, she is also smart enough to recognize that she and the other kids should have been educated on depression and mental illness and warning signs of suicide, and that it is not fair for some of the adults who are quick to gossip or point their fingers at the girls in her class when they could just as easily point back at themselves for the things that they also didn't see or do or know.

Kana's time in Japan brings her a lot of distraction in the form of hard work, but not nearly enough. She is almost always burdened by her thoughts of her classmate's death. She goes through periods of sadness at the death and anger at the girl whose actions have disrupted her life. Her grandmother is hard on her and life in her family's Japanese town takes some getting used to for Kana.

The plot of this book moves along at a leisurely pace. There's not a whole lot of big things happening, but there are a lot of small things. The free verse helps with what might otherwise be a story with a slow and almost tedious pace, turning it instead into beautiful snippets, moments, and experiences - both happy and sad - that make up Kana's summer and reveal to the reader so many elements of life.
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Format: Hardcover
ORCHARDS has a ripped-from-the-headlines feel to it, but this story, about a biracial girl sent to Japan to reflect after the suicide of a classmate, is far from trendy. For one thing, it takes place in a Japanese farming community, as opposed to the mall. Thompson, a long-time resident of Japan, gets the details of mikan-growing and rural life down just right, and Kana's no-nonsense Japanese grandmother is especially well-drawn. She has also convincingly captured the voice of 14-year-old Kana, via verse, no less. As in her first novel ASH, which was published in the adult market, Thompson explores issues of guilt and grief. In the previous novel, which was set in Kagoshima, there is an Obon scene. There's another view of Obon in ORCHARDS. It's interesting to compare the two novels, as they are set in different parts of Japan, where the same events call for different customs.

After reading the cover flap of ORCHARDS, I thought I knew how this would turn out. I was wrong. Thompson doesn't go in for easy redemption, but she leaves the reader with a feeling of hope. This is a beautiful novel.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an interesting book. I loved the new way it's told (poetic free-verse) and it was easy to get into the mind of the character. I also loved the unfolding plot - how a Japanese American has a classmate commit suicide and her family sends her to Japan to "escape" and "grieve." I loved the ununusual way that the author incorportates past and present events, without "flashbacks" or too much boring background information. It was nice to have the additional history and information on the Japanese culture, as well as what it might be like for a Japanese American to go to her ancestor's home for the first time. A lot of people don't think about how Asians in general might not have ever been to their home country; it's almost expected that they have. But similar to whites who haven't been to Germany or Norwary, etc., or blacks who haven't been to Africa or South America, a lot of Asians haven't been to their native countries. I liked the unusual situation and the way the plot unfolded as she realized her emotions about the suicide and what she wanted to do with it. I liked the message, too, because suicide can be contagious. Overall, it was a very quick read and might be encouraging for kids who say they don't like to read.
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Format: Hardcover
Kana Goldberg will be spending the summer in Japan with her mother's side of the family. A classmate in Kana's eighth grade class committed suicide. Kana's clique is broken up after discovery their bullying may have lead another girl to take her life.

The clique is mean to Ruth because she's always seen talking to a boy the main IT girl likes. Come to find out Ruth thinks she might be bi polar. The boy is only trying to be supportive because his younger sister is bi polar
The story alternates between, Kana getting to her family in Japan with memories of how she and her friends treated Ruth. I loved when Kana would remember and reflect on how her clique treated the other girl. Thompson doesn't over play the bad actions of the girls to grab the reader, she simply creates believable bullying situations.

The story's in verse, a style that's very hard to pull off. Some of the author's phrasing wasn't as sharp as I would've liked but she does a decent job of it. I would've preferred Orchards in a standard style because verse didn't enhance my emotional connection to the character.

In the beginning I thought I would hate Kana but I quickly realized, though her actions were bad she wasn't. Thompson manages to address two issues without making this feel like an issues book. Orchards was a good, well layered story. It would make an excellent book club selection.
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