This book review was originally published in Mochi Magazine as sponsored content for Harper Collins. Mochi Magazine is an online destination for Asian American women to share their stories, experiences, and passions. Click on the link to read the entire article.
SPONSORED POST: Finding Home & Belonging in “While I Was Away”, January 25, 2021
For many second-generation Americans, visiting the “motherland” can be a jarring experience. We’re initially delighted to be around people who look like us and speak like us — only to find out the way we dress, pronounce words and behave are all “wrong.” That, even in our “home countries,” we are outsiders. And yet, we might have sparkling experiences as well, ones that cross borders and place us in the cosmos, leaving us thinking, I can’t wait to come back.
In Waka T. Brown’s middle-grade memoir “While I Was Away,” 12-year-old Waka experiences all of the above. Apprehensive of their middle child losing her Japanese identity and language, her parents send her to Tokyo for five months to live with her grandmother. This empowering coming-of-age story explores the challenges and joys of reconnecting with one’s family and cultural heritage. And although there are increasingly more children’s stories being told about Asian American immigrant experiences, ones that examine the reality of “go back to where you came from” are rare. The book is recommended for kids ages 9 to 13 who may be navigating a dual identity, curious about living in a different country, or simply looking for a fun middle school drama.
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