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Somewhere Among

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  552 ratings  ·  112 reviews
A beautiful and haunting debut novel in verse about an American-Japanese girl struggling with the loneliness of being caught between two worlds when the tragedy of 9/11 strikes an ocean away.

Eleven-year-old Ema has always been of two worlds—her father’s Japanese heritage and her mother’s life in America. She’s spent summers in California for as long as she can remember, bu
Kindle Edition, 448 pages
Published April 12th 2016 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books (first published January 1st 2016)
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Average rating 3.51  · 
Rating details
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Krista Regester
I wish that the characters were better introduced in the beginning of the story, but it got better overtime. It was a sweet memoir and showed how different cultures celebrate and live during times of stress.
This book left me feeling blank. I thought I would connect to it because it takes place in 2001 Japan, before, during, and after 9/11, from the perspective of a Japanese-American girl. Since I lived in Japan from 1999-2000, the setting was familiar... and being in California during 9/11, I could relate to the surreal struggle of processing the events of 9/11 from a distance. But this book... it left me wondering: who is the audience? It covers a lot of current events that took place in 2001. Mos ...more
Susan  Dunn
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: j-fiction
Huh - this sounded so good, but I really had a hard time finishing it... Ema's dad is Japanese and her mom is American. They live most of the year in Japan but Ema goes to the States every summer to visit her grandparents. She straddles the line between her two cultures fairly well, but this year is especially difficult b/c her mom is pregnant, and having a very hard time. She isn't well enough to go to the U.S. so instead of leaving for a fun vacation, Ema and her mom are going to stay with her ...more
Erica Odell
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Somewhere Among is about an eleven year old Japanese-American named Ema, who finds herself between two cultures, worlds, languages, and families. Within this mix she finds herself alone. She lives with her Japanese grandparents in Tokyo because her mom is pregnant and on bed rest and her father is always away at work. Because her mother is on bed rest, her summer plans of going to California to visit her other grandparents have been changed. This means new school after the summer is over and new ...more
An interesting book written in poetry about a girl in Japan who has a Japanese father and an American mother and how that feels for her, how she feels inbetween things, how people at times treat her as if she is a foreigner when she has a lived all her life in Japan (at least I am guessing that given everything). Normally she goes to the US with her mom in the summer, but not this year. Throughout the book we see how the mom's pregnancy isn't always going well. Lots of sickness, lots of anxiety, ...more
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ema is binational, bicultural, bilingual, and biracial. Some people consider her “half,” and others consider her “double.” Her American mother says she contains “multitudes,” but Ema sometimes feels alone living in Japan somewhere among multitudes of people. When fifth-grader Ema and her mother go to live with Ema’s very traditional Japanese grandparents during a difficult pregnancy, author Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu takes the reader through six months (June 21, 2001-January 2, 2002) of customs, ...more
Kirsti Call
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
"At home
with Mom and Papa

I am

two cultures
two languages
two time zones

Everywhere I go
here or there
I am different".

This beautifully written novel in verse tackles the many difficult issues; discrimination, isolation, loss, illness, melding two cultures, traditions, family relationships. Ema, an 11 year old Japanese girl (with an American mom), struggles to fit in when she moves in with her Japanese grandparents. Ema's journey of self discovery and the progression of her relationshi
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
The theme of the book is that your family will always be there for you no matter what. The main character of the book goes to visit her family and her grandma is always helping her with her school work and teaches her how to play an instrument. Even her grandpa will help her if she needed it. Her mom and her Dad are busy most of the day but they all still find time to spend quality time together and that just proves that no matter what family will always be there for you.
Azelyn Klein
It’s rather odd to list a book that took place in 2001 as “historical fiction.” I almost included it in contemporary until I remembered it took place 17 years ago. (17 years: the same amount of time cicadas spend sleeping before they come out. Yes, cicadas play a part in the book.)

I particularly enjoyed the mix of cultures in the book. Though I am fully American, as a military brat, I have been raised among a mix of cultures, and nobody—except perhaps my own siblings—has shared the same mix cult
Rich Farrell
I don't often give one star reviews, so I felt I should justify this.

1) I didn't feel like the poems were really poems. Yes, there were line breaks, but it didn't add anything artistically to the writing. Just because one chooses to break off mid-sentence doesn't make it a poem. Some of the "poems" in here are what I try to teach my students not to do. Instead, be intentional in your syntax.

2) The connection to 9/11 seemed cheap and unnecessary. Just make it a book about a kid balancing between
Sep 15, 2019 rated it liked it
American mother/ Japanese father
girl and mom live with Japanese grandparents for six months while mom has difficult pregnancy
dad must commute when able
grandmother is overbearing
SLOOOOOW moving story
historical fiction from a new perspective

appropriate for middle school but will lose some readers due to lack of action, slooooow

Spoilers below:

Mom is going to have a baby 14

Mom and paternal grandpa complain about each other 20

Dad is Japanese and mom is American

Living with grandma and grandpa beca
May 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
I disliked Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu because it talks a lot about the culture and it talks about different events that have happened in the past. In the book Somewhere Among, Ema’s life is divided into two countries, two languages, two time zones, and multiple emotions. She is worried about moving in with her grandparents, Jiichan and Obaachan. Ema has to find, somewhere inside her, that one thing that can never be stopped. Hope. Ema has to live between America and living in W ...more
May 21, 2020 rated it liked it
There were so many great themes in this book, but I often found myself re-reading to make sure I understood what was happening. Not a huge deal for me, but I wonder how this would play out with my reluctant readers, whom I often suggest read novels-in-verse.

Ema's mom is having a baby, so she and her mother move in with Ema's father's parents on the opposite side of Tokyo. There were a few questions I have, and looked back through the pages to see if I could find the answers: Ema and her parents
Amy Layton
Normally I don't really enjoy thinking about or commemorating 9/11, and I think it's because I was just too young to really understand it, and then grew up in a community who had a strange fascination to such a horrific attack.  So when I picked up this book, I was a little hesitant, but I found it beautiful and poignant, especially as Ema must deal with the 9/11 attack in a different country that was bombed by the United States 60 some years earlier.  

Ema's the only one in her class to stay at
Donna Rogers
Jul 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-school
This is a story about a Japanese-American girl who feels torn between two cultures. She's forced to spend her summer in Japan when she's usually in America with her grandparents. Her mother is with her, pregnant, and both are separated from the country where they feel the most comfortable (America). There's a bully story line, an absent Japanese father (works all the time 4 hours away), and an overbearing, bossy Japanese MIL/grandma. Then 9-11 happens. Both mother and daughter feel helpless in t ...more

This book was written verse. In collections of poem-like recounts and vignette style description. Each section had a hidden meaning of its own that could be taken to remember.

The book was about a girl named Ema (not Emma, mind you that refers to the goddess of hell in Japanese), who is straddled between the worlds of her life in Japan and her life in the United States, as she finds herself Somewhere Among where the worlds collide and cultures clash. Ema stays with her pregnant mother
Melanie Dulaney
Wonderful book for middle grade to younger YA readers exploring the efforts of a young girl to embrace and learn from her two heritages: American and Japanese. The publisher summary, however, makes it seem like the effects of the horrific terrorist bombings on Sept. 11, 2001 would be a prominent aspect of Ema's journey so I was puzzled when the disaster does not appear in the book until more than halfway in. Those bombings do play a pivotal role in her family's understanding of each other and th ...more
May 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was so excited to start this book, but was disappointed. As someone who lived through 9-11 in NYC, I didn't really understand Ema's connection to the events.

A novel-in-verse narrated by Ema, a young American girl who must move to Japan to live with her mom and her father's parents while she is pregnant and on bed rest. Ema feels lost in her new world - not quite belonging, alienated by her cold grandmother, and confused about how to help her mother.

Could be a beautiful story in itself, but a
Michelle Tuite
Oct 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Reading 2019
Book 108: Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu

Another book in verse. A sweet story about a girl who feels she is between two worlds. Her mom is white from the United States, and her dad is Japanese. Ema and her family live in Japan, and spends some of her summers in the US with her maternal grandparents. This year though her mom is pregnant and they move in with Ema's paternal grandparents in hopes of keeping her mom calm. Mom has lost a couple of pregnancies. Ema struggles t
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mg
I didn't expect to read it in one sitting (2 hours) and I didn't expect it to make me cry in the middle of Barnes & Noble, but sometimes a book defies expectations. Beautiful and tender and sad and hopeful. Wonderfully written. Strong, generous characterization. A love letter to Japan. A love letter to a generation of mixed-ethnicity families. Even a love letter to the Obaachan that Ema doesn't understand, and the Ema that Obaachan doesn't understand, and to their gradual, painful, incomplete tu ...more
Jennifer Miller
Oct 30, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: middleschool

Genre: poetry/historical fiction

Culture: Japanese

Grade Level: 6th

Appropriateness: references to 9-11 and international conflicts

Instruction: not recommended for instruction

Other: I had a hard time with this book. I appreciated that it was written in verse, because middle grade lit needs more of that. What I didn't appreciate was that the plot line didn't move. I was left at the end still wondering what the point of the text was. It read more like a
Audrey Kammerer
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very effective use of poetry to tell the story. That mood and pacing suit the plot and setting wonderfully. Multigenerational, mixed culture family learning to understand and appreciate each other through some rough times. Main character is easy to relate to as she struggles with the stresses in her family and the tragedies happening in the world. The author takes the time to show how other character’s deal with the stresses and reflect on events as well. Lovely look at some traditional Japanese ...more
Allie Z.
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved learning more about modern day Japanese culture. I also found it fascinating to see 9/11 through someone else's eyes. As with all big tragedies, the whole world mourns with whatever country is suffering, but I never thought that people in other countries might be scared from the attacks like the U.S. was, too. After all, the U.S. is a power house and if someone could take us down, why not any other smaller country, too? ...more
Kinah Zainuddin
Feb 19, 2021 rated it liked it
Super easy read. This book will be great for people who just want to start reading as it moves pretty fast, and the words are rather simple and easy to understand.

Though for me, it does give me a different perspective reading on the event that the book was based on, but not shocking. Just that it offers something different. Gave only 3 stars because I think my friends made me expect more, so I had a higher expectation, but it was not achieved (it'd that makes sense).
Jordan Funke
I wanted to like this book but I just didn't. I'll read anything about Japan or Korea but the main character was stuck in the house with her overbearing grandmother the whole time so I didn't even got to feel like it was in Japan. I really disliked the main character because she was such a complainer. I abandoned this book halfway through. ...more
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book to preview it for our school library. I thought it was very interesting and enjoyed it.

I liked the verse. I appreciate that it is different than most of the books in our library.

I also feel it represents the observations of a 9 year old girl well. The reader has a chance to learn about Japanese culture and the historical events of late 2001 through her eyes.
Sandy L
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
i like how the story was told in the form of poems. i still got the full book experience even if the story was told in a different form. i learned a little about it is to live in Japan. it talks about how a girl split between two cultures lives. she can still celebrate holidays that happen in the States but also in Japan.
A terrific look at what it means to be biracial, binational, bicultural...among and between two very different worlds. Ema's mom is American and dad is Japanese. While staying with her Japanese grandparents in 2001, 9/11 happens. Written in verse, it is a pretty quick read, but I really liked the exploration of cultural differences and a girl's struggle to belong and find her identity. ...more
Laura White
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
A good poetry book that takes place in Japan during the year around 9/11. The main character is a girl whose dad is Japanese and mom is from the United States, and is living in Japan, so a large part of the book is her dealing with her feelings of being between two worlds.
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always shied away from books in verse, but the plot sounded so fascinating that I decided to give it a try. I was glad I did. It was a great story and I enjoyed that it was written in verse. It was written beautifully. The author outdid herself with this one.
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