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3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  956 Ratings  ·  182 Reviews
Winner of the APALA Asian/Pacific American Award for Young Adult Literature
An ALA-YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book

After a classmate commits suicide, Kana Goldberg—a half-Japanese, half-Jewish American—wonders who is responsible. She and her cliquey friends said some thoughtless things to the girl. Hoping that Kana will reflect on her behavior, her parents pack her
ebook, 336 pages
Published February 22nd 2011 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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(showing 1-30)
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Jonathan Peto
May 12, 2012 Jonathan Peto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, ya, poetry
If you look, you'll see that Holly Thompson is one of my Goodreads friends. I'm under no pressure to give her book a good review though. I only found her here after she visited my school. Otherwise, we are not acquainted.

I am acquainted with her topic. Not suicide, but Japan. And orchards, both apple and mikan. As a student, I worked at UMASS's apple orchard in Belchertown, MA. I also lived in a mikan growing region of Japan at one time, so I was looking forward to reading a book that touched on
Aug 05, 2010 Nafiza rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This verse novel by Holly Thompson flips the perspective on bullying and shows what happens to the bullies when their bullying has tragic consequences. Thompson’s novel follows Kana’s displacement from New York to an orange orchard in Japan, her mother’s place of birth and home. The novel is particularly successful in portraying the various degrees of culture shock felt by Kana and how immersion into her new life affects her feelings of guilt over what happened to her classmate.

The verse is spar
I loved the book - especially the way it was written. The poetry format was very interesting as it was simple and fast to read. The story really made me think about the impact of events - especially sadness. How emotions are infectious, and how they can effect people even if they didn't have anything directly to do with it. It makes me think about our world now and how we feel sad/empathetic to events that don't even impact us directly. It shows how human emotions work and I found that interesti ...more
Feb 07, 2011 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Orchards is an amazing little book about guilt, healing, family, and life, among other things. It is written entirely in free verse, so it reads quickly and easily even though it touches on some heavy subjects such as suicide and body image.

Kana is an easily likable and sympathetic character. In the aftermath of a classmate's suicide, she feels guilt for things that she didn't do, things she didn't know, things that in hindsight she feels that she should have done or known. But at the same time
Anne Marie
Heartbreaking. Beautiful. A must read for anyone who has known they have hurt others - by accident or selfishly internationally. I enjoyed reading most of this book in one sitting.
Carol Baldwin
From the number of novels-in-verse that I review, you may guess this is a genre close to my heart. Ever since I was in high school and poured my heart out in free verse, I've admired this genre. But there is more than a world apart from my attempts and beautifully written novels such as THE GOOD BRAIDER, BLUE BIRDS, CRAZY, THE KISS OF BROKEN GLASS. I am consistently impressed with these authors' ability to tell well-plotted stories using succinct, figurative language.

Let's add ORCHARDS by Holly
Mar 28, 2015 Ella rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book beautifully written and was the first novel I have read that had a story written in poetry. At the beginning of the book I found it very complex and confusing, but later on throughout the book I understood who the characters were are what the story was about. Orchards has themes such as guilt, friendship and culture in it and tackles the issue bullying and what extremes it can bring. I found the cover of this book very misleading and confusing as it doesn't relate as much to the story. ...more
Timely tale of bullying told from a bully's point of view. Kana - half-Japanese, half-Jewish, is sent to Japan to live with family for the summer after the suicide of a classmate who she had a hand in ostracizing. I felt like the sparse prose was a great way to handle Kana's fluctuating feelings after her classmate's death and the subsequent repercussions. I thought the story had a slow start - if it had not, I probably would have given it 4 stars.
Apr 21, 2011 Namrata rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book was really good. I started reading it and I couldn't put it down. Usually I'm not a fan of books written in free verse but this one was really nice. It was sad at some parts but I really liked how the story ended.
Jul 15, 2011 Jolene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-fiction
Written in verse, Orchard reveals the story of Hana half japanese half jewish new york teen who is sent to Japan after a friends suicide. A great short read and great for teen dealing with bullying and suicide in school or with friends.
Jan 27, 2013 Jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a while to get a feel for her style of writing, but once I did, I enjoyed the book. It covers a powerful topic, which I appreciate!
Lil' Violet

Characters: Kana, her friends her family Kana is an 8th grade girl who is sent away because of the suicide of a classmate that one of her friends supposedly caused she is punished and sent to japan. All the characters are flat at times it was hard to remember who her friends were when one of there names would pop up or even what her name was. Random characters would be named out of no where random crushes and friends which really did nothing for the story. What pulled the characters dow
Sofia Razmilovic
Jan 10, 2017 Sofia Razmilovic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very sad
Jun 08, 2010 Ari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011

I think the free verse format of the book kept me from better visualizing the countryside of Japan. I've got the travel bug so I wanted way more details than were provided. Kana does spend a lot of time describing food which was yummy to read about (this coming from someone whose never had Japanese food) but I wanted her to describe the differences in schooling, what do the teenagers in Japan do for fun, etc. Instead Kana is a loner in Japan except for cousins a few years older than herself
Jan 08, 2017 Becca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When you plan on reading a few pages to see if you'd like it and end up reading the entire book in one sitting...
usagi ☆ミ
When I saw this book at the library, I knew I just had to read it. I love fiction that’s written in free verse (“Sharp Teeth” would be the best example of this that I’ve encountered so far) – it’s rare to find, but even rarer to find within the confines of YA fiction alone. “Sharp Teeth”, meet your new rival, “Orchards”.

This book deals with several issues all at once – being bicultural, bullying, suicide, and death. And I usually try to avoid books like these because there is rarely a new voices
Briana Hyon
Feb 02, 2012 Briana Hyon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kana Goldberg is a half Japanese half Jewish-American girl who has just finished 8th grade. She is sent to Japan for summer vacation, only thing is that it’s not for vacation. She is sent to live in her mother’s ancestral home, after Ruth, a classmate, hangs herself from a tree in an orchard. She is not the only one that is sent away, the other girls in 8th grade are also sent away from each other, to reflect on their behavior and emotions. Kana believes that it is not fair, insisting that she ...more
Apr 04, 2011 Kristin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Orchards is a book about a group of middle school girls who contribute to a classmate's decision to commit suicide. The girls bully and ostracize her, and the ring leader, Lisa, gives Ruth a note stating, "I hope you die." Ruth then walks to her friend's family's orchard, where she hangs herself from an apple tree. None of this is a surprise - the reader goes into this novel-in-poems knowing that Ruth has killed herself. The story is told from Kana's point of view. Kana was part of the group who ...more
Aug 26, 2014 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gush-worthy, teen, japan
I'm so glad to have happened upon this book. It swept me up in its beautiful language and expert use of prose to transport me to places I've never been and problems I've never had. Contemporary teen lit right now is cluttered with sappy sad stories of "unusual" love in one-and-million circumstances. There should be more like Orchards; there should be more stories that delve into tragedy and show how it can transform people and create something better. Of course, some readers may argue that more ...more
Thompson, H. (2011). Orchards. New York: Delacorte Press.

Summary: Kana Goldberg, the eighth grade main character, is shipped off to Japan to spend the summer with family upon the demand of her parents after the unthinkable happened to her classmate: Her classmate commits suicide. Her parents thought it was best that she get away to think about what she and her friends did to contribute to the situation. In this book written in verse, the author leads her readers through the aftermath of her clas
Jul 22, 2015 Starlight rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Orchards was a beautiful book. Told in a verse style, it reads like an Ellen Hopkins novel, with quick, easy to read pages which makes for a fast read (I finished it in just a few hours.) Orchards mainly focuses on Kana, the half-japanese, half-jewish protagonist who was involved in the bullying of Ruth, who committed suicide. Because of her involvement, Kana is sent to spend her summer away from home with her Japanese relatives. There, while working, she begins to reflect upon the events and wo ...more
Mar 28, 2011 Melody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember seeing Orchards by Holly Thompson on a few blogs I followed. Attracted by the lovely cover but more so intrigued by the plot, I decided to get a copy. When my copy arrived, I was a little surprised to find that it was written in free verse instead of a novel format. Since I have never read a book written in free verse (well they remind me of poetry, kind of) and given that the book I was reading then didn't intrigue me much, I decided to jump into it.

Half-Japanese and half-Jewish Ame
Feb 20, 2012 Ayushi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book definitely surprised me. I don’t particularly like books written in verse, as they are too quick and I get confused. Books written in verse also tend to not develop the plot completely, and some of the characters or setting remains brief. But Orchards wasn’t that bad. Each chapter is like it's own individual poem and it's interesting how Kana seems to be talking to Ruth the whole time, as if each poem is a letter to her, apologizing or telling her what's happening and, often blaming Ru ...more
Ashley Keller
Nov 03, 2016 Ashley Keller rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What would you do if you walked in your friends house and saw her dead. Well that's exactly what happened to Kana Goldberg saw when she walked into her friend's house, Kana did not know what to do so she just called the cops and walked out of the house. On her way home she was thanking how she is she was going to find out who did this to her friend. When Kana got home her parents were in the living room trying to process everything that happened. The next morning Kana woke and went downstairs to ...more
Book Twirps
May 21, 2011 Book Twirps rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After a bi-polar classmate’s suicide caused by bullying, Kana is sent to live in Japan for the summer with her mother’s relatives. It was Kana’s friend Lisa that did a majority of the bullying, but Kana never did anything to stop is and it is weighing on her. While in Japan, she is to attend summer school, read a stack of books her mother sent with her, and help her mother’s family tend to their mikan orange groves. Kana is half Jewish and half Japanese and quickly finds herself an outsider in h ...more
Int'l librarian
Another novel in verse – another two hour speed read and done. Oh well.

The descriptions of Japanese orange grove cultivation are interesting. And I like the quick glimpses of Mt. Fuji and spiritual ritual and village life. But there isn’t enough here to get me emotionally involved in the setting.

And that’s not the core of the story, anyway. Orchards aims to be a poetic warning against the evils of cyberbullying. The narrator, Kana, is an 8th grade Japanese-American, visiting her Japanese side
Jul 13, 2013 Wendolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wendolyn by: Abby
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stories & Sweeties {Becky}
This is my first foray into the world of books written in verse. I admit, I was a little hesitant at first. But as far as Orchards is concerned, it was amazing. The rhythm of the words fit the subject and tone this story was trying to get across just perfectly. This book is described as being written in spare yet evocative verse, and they weren't kidding. There was, on average, about twenty lines of verse on each page. With this writing method, you seem to get more of a "feel" for what is going ...more
Feb 10, 2011 Jeanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Kana goes through a hard time after a student at her school commits suicide. When she is sent to Japan to live with her relatives, she realizes a few things about herself and others along the way.

I enjoyed Orchards. It was a fast read, mostly because it was a verse novel. I was surprised that a verse novel was able to hold such emotion and feeling into so few words. It was remarkable how the book talked about bullying and suicide and didn't make it seem like too much topics in one. The writing d
Piper (An Ocean of Words)
"most atoms
aren't as stable
as they seem."

I wish I had been given this book before I entered my 8th grade year. Middle School is confusing enough as it is- but during that time, many kids say and do terrible things, never realizing the true impact of it all. For the most part, this doesn't result in suicide. But in Kana's case, it did. This book teaches so many lessons about society, culture, guilt, and mourning. It's hard to explain in depth because there are so many dimensions in this story.

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JPL YA Reading Ch...: Novel in verse 1 4 Apr 29, 2013 02:23PM  
UWCSEA English/Li...: Suicide in middle school novels? 3 23 Nov 04, 2012 06:08PM  
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Holly Thompson ( is a native of Massachusetts and a longtime resident of Japan. A graduate of the NYU Creative Writing Program, she writes poetry, fiction and nonfiction for children through adults. She is author of the verse novels Falling into the Dragon's Mouth, The Language Inside, and Orchards; the picture books The Wakame Gatherers and the forthcoming Twilight Chant; and the ...more
More about Holly Thompson...

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“Newton's third law
of reciprocal action
for every action there is an equal
and opposite
that all forces are interactions
all forces come in pairs

Physics and You
spells it out
if body A exerts a force
on body B
then body B will exert a force
of the same magnitude
on body A

push and pull

I think
maybe this
is what happened
with Lisa
and you, Ruth -
body A
and body B”
More quotes…