A big but consistently engaging pro bono anthology of authors with direct or indirect Japanese “heritage or experience.”
The 36 tales (all but six of which are new) were gathered as contributions to the relief effort for victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. They feature Japanese—or, frequently, haafu, half-Japanese—teenagers engaged in the business of growing up. Two stories are set in the past: a Pearl Harbor episode from Graham Salisbury and Mariko Nagai’s probing free-verse view of the prejudice and internment faced by Japanese Americans shortly thereafter. Otherwise nearly all of the stories have contemporary settings. Only one story refers directly to the 2011 disaster; in the rest, situations and experiences blend familiar tropes with some that may be new to U.S. audiences. Some concern making or missing friends and coping with bullies or demanding parents. Others find their characters reading absorbing cellphone mini-novels on a long commute to school or finding common ground through dance and kendo as well as baseball. Fantasy also makes a strong showing in tales of dragons and eerie samurai dolls, a supernatural Lost Property Office, a magic toaster that predicts the manner of one’s death and more. The closing capsule bios will be particularly helpful to young readers on this side of the Pacific.
A broadly appealing mix of the tragic and droll, comforting, disturbing, exotic and universal, with nary a clinker in the bunch. (glossary) (Short stories. 11-13)