KIM/KIMI by Hadley Irwin


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A duo who have produced several well-reviewed novels dealing with social issues under this pseudonym tell the story of how Kim(i) Yoguchi Andrews, 16, searches for the family of her Japanese-American father, who died before she was born. Bright but rebellious and chronically in trouble at school, Kim has failed to find her identity in her all-white Iowa community and family. Although she has a loving relationship with Mom and Dad, she doesn't communicate her worries to them; her closest friends are tall Jay and 12-year-old half-brother Davey, a Dungeons and Dragons maven. Not dating because she's different, she sees life in terms of the simplistic romances that are her favorite reading. With parents off on a trip, Davey helps her set up an adventure that he describes as a D & D quest: Kim flies to Sacramento to seek the family that disowned her father because of his marriage. Staying with a Japanese family that is active in seeking redress for the WW II internment of Japanese-Americans, Kim is ambivalent about her quest; unwillingly, she learns for the first time of her people's history and begins to see life in terms of real people instead of trivial romance. Meeting her grandmother and aunt is a formal, restrained event, but there is a suggestion that greater warmth will follow when both they and Kim have had more time to restructure old habits of thought. Although Kim's initial status in the limbo of Iowa is not fully motivated, characters are well drawn, events move quickly to establish her growing understanding of her past, and the historical issues are clearly and fairly presented. Readers should enjoy Kim's journey to become Kimi, and learn something on the way.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1987
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Macmillan/Margaret K. McElderry