Seventeen-year-old Kettle has had his share of adversity. As an orphaned Japanese American struggling to make a life in the aftermath of an event in history not often referred to—the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the removal of children from orphanages for having "one drop of Japanese blood in them"—things are finally looking up. He has his hideout in an abandoned subway tunnel, a job, and his gang of Lost Boys. Desperate to run away, the world outside her oppressive brownstone calls to naïve, eighteen-year-old Nora—the privileged daughter of a controlling and violent civil rights lawyer who is building a compensation case for the interned Japanese Americans. But she is trapped, enduring abuse to protect her younger sister Frankie and wishing on the stars every night for things to change. For months, they've lived side by side, their paths crossing yet never meeting. But when Nora is nearly killed and her sister taken away, their worlds collide.
This book was so incredibly beautiful and moving and amazing and I really don't know if I can do this book justice. Everything about it was perfect! I am a really, really fast reader but for this book, I had to force myself to slow down and savor it. Every single word was perfection.
I freaking loved the characters. First of all, this book takes place in a time period that isn't often talked about. It is set after the horrible period in American history where Japanese Americans were placed in "internment camps." Kettle and his friend, Kin, are homeless and live with a group of Lot Boys. These boys are all of Japanese ancestry and they all have a fear of authority due to their time in the camps. Kettle had been forcibly removed from an orphanage to be taken to a camp, while Kin's mom actually died of TB while inside the camps. Both of these boys, along with the children they take care of, have emotional scars from this time and the amount of racism in America does not help. Kettle and Kin had to dodge physical blows and name calling at every single turn. There were people who obviously felt bad about the camps, but wanted to forget anything had happened. Then there were people who still thought Japanese people were dangerous and bad. It was so incredibly sad, but man, I loved, loved, LOVED Kettle. He was so incredibly brave and loyal and protective. He worked awful (and very dangerous) jobs to pay for food for his lost boys and he refused to steal to do it.
Then there was Nora. My heart broke for Nina on every single page. On the outside, things looked great. She was very well off and she seemingly had a great family. Her dad was a famous civil rights lawyer who was trying to get compensation for the Japanese Americans who had been placed in the camps. The problem was that Nora's father was an abusive and controlling and sadistic man. I hated that man with every fiber of my being. But Nora was so incredibly strong. She had a sister, Frankie, and she was wiling to do ANYTHING for her. Frankie was partially deaf and needed a hearing aid because of an injury that their father inflicted when she was young. Nora vowed to make sure her dad never laid a hand on her again and she took so much punishment for it. There was one scene where Frankie tried to comfort her and she said "You saved me." I just lost it at that point. My eyes tear up right now just thinking about it. Their relationship was the most beautiful thing in Nora's life and I adored Frankie so much. It was so twisted that this man was so focused on getting justice for others on the outside, while he treated his family like they weren't even human.
The book goes back and forth between the two POVs. Their lives kind of intersect and overlap, but they still don't meet each other until more than halfway through the book. I was waiting and waiting for them to meet and I was not disappointed. I don't want to give away any of the plot, but I loved their interactions. These two people had so much in common and they were destined to meet.
It looks like this book MAY get a sequel. The author has a sequel outline, but it depends on how well this one does. So basically, you need to read this book NOW!! Read it because I know you will love it and then you can give it a rave review and then we can get that sequel!
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Buy this one for sure!