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Up From the Sea Hardcover – January 12, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—A thoughtful exploration of the March 2011 tsunami in Japan and its aftermath. The tsunami destroyed more than just buildings during its rampage of the coastal cities of Japan; it destroyed the lives of many in the process. Although a work of fiction, this well-researched novel will place readers within the turmoil of that event and make them think about the people and families who experience the devastation of natural and man-made disasters every day. With an accurate background and written entirely in free verse, Lowitz's work offers a short but poignant view into the life of Kai, a biracial Japanese teen who loses everything and everyone in the storm. While his village struggles to rebuild, Kai receives the opportunity to visit New York to meet other kids who experienced similar life-changing pain in the September 11 tragedy. It is there that Kai finally learns the importance of trying hard and growing up despite overwhelming grief. The fast-paced writing progresses the plot perfectly to fit with the subject. The narration exudes emotion, and teens will connect with Kai as he faces the usual trials of growing up while living through such a difficult time. The open and honest talk about death may spark conversation among readers. Fans of Ellen Hopkins's work will enjoy the immediacy of this novel-in-verse. VERDICT A well-written first purchase for teen collections.—DeHanza Kwong, Central Piedmont Community College, NC
A BookRiot 100 Must-Read YA Books Written in Verse
A New York Public Library Best Book for Teens, 2016
An SCBWI 2016 Summer Reading List Recommendation
"A powerful, deeply moving book." —The Japan Times
“Readers who appreciate the power of sports, friendship, and family to heal and to restore will engage with this well-paced emotional journey.” —Booklist
“It is a moving story of the rebirth of hope in a teen who has lost almost everything…Kai will resonate with teens on a simple human level, just as 3/11 resonates with 9/11.” —VOYA
“Up from the Sea touched me deeply with its beautiful message of hope and the resilience of humanity. Bravo.” —Ellen Oh, author of The Prophecy series
“Successfully captures the raw emotions of loss, grief, and what it means to move forward.” —Buzzfeed
"Kai’s contemplation of his mixed-race status, which has made him the target of bullies, is thoughtful and relatable… The soccer thread … will be a point of connection for many young readers, who will understand how love of a game can sustain people in the hardest of times." —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"The dramatic scenes depicting the onslaught of Mother Earth’s wrath are movie-scene worthy. Lowitz does an outstanding job of capturing the tension felt by Kai as he fights to survive….The book serves as a perfect reminder of the resiliency and toughness of the Tohoku people as well as the challenges they faced.” —JQ Magazine (JETWIT)
“A rare contribution to the nearly non-existent English-language literature in Japan focusing on the tsunami survivors, Up From the Sea is recommended for anyone who wants to learn more about the disaster from a personal point of view.” —Japan Today
"A beautiful story, tying two major historical events: the Japanese tsunami of 2011 and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.”—Ethical ELA
"A story of hope not only for those who lost everything to the tsunami but for the whole of suffering humanity, [Up from the Sea] is a work of great depth, the fruit of long research, and a masterpiece from a writer who feels the cry of humanity very deeply. [It] underscores powerful lessons on the primacy of community...Besides being highly entertaining and captivating, Lowitz’s writing is purpose-driven and offers wonderful lessons about recovery, hope, and perseverance."
—Romuald Dzemo, Youdreamawake.com
“A poetic journey that will appeal to readers of any age.”—TimeoutTokyo
"This novel is the first artistic response I’ve read to the 2011 Tohoku disaster and the first time I read it, I cried. The second time I read it I cried too. When you write a book, you put a little bit of your soul into it. Leza’s soul is beautiful. When you hear the statistics 'over 15,000 dead' it’s hard to imagine…Up From the Sea makes that real.” —Texan in Tokyo
"[Up From the Sea] is a deep work, appealing to young adults in being fast-paced and highly visual. This book is really for everyone. It is poetry in the form of a novel and it is beautiful.” —Melibelle in Tokyo
Top customer reviews
Just an ordinary spring morning,
ordinary fight with Mom.
Maybe she spoke to me in English
and I answered in Japanese–
don’t even remember now. . . .
Whatever it was seems so stupid
at 2:46 p.m., when I’m sitting in math
waiting for the bell to ring
and the earth starts to shake.
That moment launches the story, of course, and you’d expect to encounter lives and buildings rent asunder. Death and horror. There is all of that here, but it’s not the center of the novel. More important even than the story people trying to recover and rebuild from such a catastrophe is a story that began long before the sea washed his village away–the search for his father.
Allow me a short personal detour. A couple of decades back, a fire swept our neighborhood. Flames took three thousand homes in twelve hours. Landmarks disappeared. People died. Families lost touch. Even with modern communication devices–not so modern, actually, cell phones were rare–it was difficult for a while for people to get back in touch. The devastation didn’t approach Fukushima’s, but there is a parallel. A mile or so away from our house (which the fire spared) there is a crossroads dominated by a huge eucalyptus tree. People took to posting notices. Found a dog. Lost a cat. Tell my parents I’m okay. Has anyone seen Jane?
Kai has already lost touch with his father, has yearned every day to somehow reestablish the connection. Now, with everything else seemingly destroyed, finding his lost father seems the only way to make his life whole again.
Talking too much, singing to himself
as he walked along the pier,
things a Japanese dad would never do.
He embarrassed me so bad,
sometimes I wished
he’d go away.
By making Kai’s dilemma the core of this story, Up From the Sea, evokes an emotional response that the ugly pictures and statistics can’t match. And we realize that it’s the personal relationships that have priority even over the reconstruction of hearth and home. The book doesn’t need Fukushima for Kai’s search to draw us into Kai’s heart and mind. However, the way that Lowitz has joined the two is a stunning literary achievement.
jumping out of chair
Most recent customer reviews
I became a fan of Leza Lowitz when I first read her brilliant and gripping memoir, Here Comes the Sun a book that described her...Read more
I was really excited to get this book for review…especially due to the fact that I absolutely adore books that...Read more