MY BROTHER, MY SISTER, AND I by Yoko Kawashima Watkins


Age Range: 11 & up
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 A continuation of Far from the Bamboo Grove (1986), which described the author's harrowing escape from Korea at the end of WW II. It is 1947 and Yoko, now 13, is still hoping her father will return to Japan; her mother has died, a fact she must conceal from the school her older sister Ko and brother Hideyo insist she attend. The three are refugees in their own country, surviving on the most meager of diets in a ``four-tatami room'' in a warehouse. When their generous landlords are murdered and the warehouse is burned they barely escape; rescuing their few precious possessions, Ko is so badly hurt that she's hospitalized for months. Yoko cares for her while Hideyo holds two menial jobs; they sleep and cook their meals in Ko's hospital room. Meanwhile, they are accused of the murder, exacerbating the cruel hazing Yoko already receives from classmates as a refugee, but are able to help the police solve the crime. When Ko is discharged they build a shack under a bridge; later, they share the home of a kindly Burakumin (outcast) met in the hospital. From its gripping first pages, where the hungry trio is plunged into danger, the immediacy and translucent simplicity of Watkins's narrative are compelling. The authentic portrayal of postwar Japan is fascinating; the lively reconstructed dialogue deftly reveals character, especially of Ko, who masks affection for her sister with stern demands. Yoko--generous, hard-working, persistent to a heroic degree but above all modest--is unforgettable. LC classes this as fiction. (Autobiography. 11+)heroic degree but above all modest--is unforgettable. LC classes this as fiction. (Autobiography. 11+)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-02-792526-9
Page count: 224pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1994