Emma Karas was raised in Japan; it’s the country she calls home. But when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, Emma’s family moves to a town outside Lowell, Massachusetts to stay with her grandmother while her mom undergoes treatment. Emma feels out of place in the U.S., begins to have migraines, and longs to be back in Japan. At her grandmother’s urging, she volunteers in a long-term care center to help Zena, a patient with locked-in syndrome, write down her poems. There, Emma meets Samnang, another volunteer, who assists elderly Cambodian refugees. Weekly visits to the care center, Zena’s poems, dance, and noodle soup bring Emma and Samnang closer, until Emma must make a painful choice: stay in Massachusetts, or return early to Japan.
Delacorte/Random House, May 2013
How do you know if you’re responsible? After a bullied classmate commits suicide, Kana Goldberg is sent to her family’s home in Japan for the summer. Kana wasn’t the bully, not exactly, but she didn’t do anything to stop what happened, either. As Kana begins to process the pain and guilt she feels, news from home sends her world spinning out of orbit all over again. Delacorte/Random House, February 2011. “A fast-paced page-turner that explores the rippling effects of suicide.” –Kirkus Reviews
2012 APALA Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature
(meaning “friend” in Japanese) is an anthology of young adult short fiction in prose, verse and graphic art set in or related to Japan. This collection for readers age 12 and up features thirty-six stories—including ten in translation and two graphic narratives—contributed by authors and artists from around the world, all of whom share a connection to Japan. Tales of friendship, mystery, love, ghosts, magic, sci-fi and history will take readers to Japan past and present and to Japanese communities abroad. Proceeds from the sales will go to organizations that assist teens affected by the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Stone Bridge Press, March, 2012.
Bicultural Nanami goes seaweed gathering with her Japanese and American grandmothers. While translating for the two women she comes to understand they were at war when they were her age. "A heartwarming example of how being from different cultures, countries, and races and speaking another language are not really barriers to appreciation and acceptance..." --Multicultural Review
"A wonderfully insightful novel about a young woman living within two cultures. Thompson adeptly explores the lasting bonds of friendship and the courage needed to face the past in order to embrace the future."—Gail Tsukiyama, author of Women of the Silk and The Samurai’s Garden
Short Stories, Poems, Articles and Essays
Holly Thompson's short stories, poems, articles and essays can be found in these anthologies, journals and magazines: click here