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Paper Wishes

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  2,498 ratings  ·  616 reviews
A moving debut novel about a girl whose family is relocated to a Japanese internment camp during World War II—and the dog she has to leave behind.

Ten-year-old Manami did not realize how peaceful her family's life on Bainbridge Island was until the day it all changed. It's 1942, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Manami and her family are Japanese American, which means t
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published January 5th 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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Mrs. Ryan Although both stories are about the main character losing a precious pet the story lines are completely different.

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Average rating 4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,498 ratings  ·  616 reviews

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Dec 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read it awhile ago but remember loving the story. Good YA on treatment of Japanese-Americans in CA during and after WWII.
Bridget Hodder
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
"Strong words. Brave words."

Gently, insistently, Sepahban's spare, lyrical prose draws you in deep. This story of a Japanese-American family herded off to an internment camp during WWII, and their struggle with loss, their strength and their survival, is centered upon the character of the youngest family member: 10-year-old Manami.

Manami's parents and grandfather are loving and supportive but traditional. They do not share their fears or discuss the war, the hateful policy of internment, or its
Aug 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! What an incredible read! I knew very little about this period in American history, but this story showed me the fascinating and often painful truth of WWII's Japanese internment camps.

Manami is a girl whose family is relocated to one of these camps because they are Japanese. She is in truth American, having been born on her home island, but that identity is thrown into flux when soldiers arrive and force her to leave--and abandon her little dog Yujiin in the process.

Manami's new life at the
Victoria Coe
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had the good fortune to read an advance copy of PAPER WISHES in exchange for an honest review.

Everything about this gorgeous, lyrical, heartbreaking story is a work of art -- starting with the spare yet evocative cover. Like the main character Manami, Lois Sepahban draws a moving picture of grief, resilience, and ultimately strength.

As Manami's family is grieving the loss of her grandmother, a small white dog appears as they are walking on the beach one day. Little Yujiin becomes a member of t
Jessica Cluess
Dec 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This book is a real treasure. It illuminates one of the worst chapters of our modern American history--one that has sadly often gone overlooked. The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was a horror, but it's one that Lois Sepahban portrays beautifully. The writing is gorgeous, lyrical and emotional. Manami is a protagonist to cherish, a little girl who is so fragile but so resilient at the same time. It's a story of hope struggl
Monica Tesler
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful book. With all the praise already circulating for PAPER WISHES, I had high expectations. My expectations were exceeded. Manami's story is painful, but it is impeccably executed. The author masterfully employs imagery, metaphor, and word manipulation and repetition to great effect. She immerses the reader in a strong first person narrative, thereby disallowing objective detachment from the realities of our history of Japanese internment. The result is deeply affecting.

In my v
Dana Elmendorf
Sep 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is simply beautiful, poetically written and it reaches for your heart and touches your soul. The author has a simple story telling style that draws you in. Her prose are beautifully done and have a strong emotional impact. To see the Japanese encampments through a child's eyes brings another layer to our horrible history. The author does such a great job of expressing a child's fears, concerns and confusion on a level other children Manami’s age will be able relate too. She also tells ...more
Jan 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
This book is so beautifully written and although it's premise spotlights such a sad time in history, it's focus on Manami and her family makes it hopeful as well.

I can't even explain what it was that kept me diving back in each time I sat down, it was just a story that had to be read and Manami was a character I wanted to get to know. There is also a lot of insight into what it was like in these camps and what life became for the families who were there. A great read that could definitely be use
Kali Wallace
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had a chance to read an ARC of PAPER WISHES, and I found it to be absolutely stunning from beginning to end.

It's a beautifully told story that is both heartbreaking and hopeful, dealing with one of the most shameful periods of U.S. history in a careful, thoughtful, well-researched manner. It's also a story about a family--loving, complicated, and so very real--trying to do everything they can to continue to survive in country that is treating them so poorly, and a young girl searching for way
Ruth Lehrer
May 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so important in a time when politicians speak about walls, internment camps, and "aliens." I love that the figurative language was not edited out of this middle grade book. The simplicity of Sepahban's poetic language makes the message even stronger. My father's partner was nisei and was in a west coast camp as a child. I'm so glad that children in 2016 can read about what her experience must have been like. Thank you Lois.
Mar 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had the opportunity to read an ARC of Lois Sepahban's PAPER WISHES. I'm so glad I did because this book is both beautiful and important. I absolutely loved it.

I will tell you that I have such a soft spot for any book that has any kind of dog in it, so I was especially excited for Lois' debut novel. And what I found in PAPER WISHES was a stunning story about hardship and hope and the power of love.

Manami is a ten-year-old girl who has a wonderful life that includes walks on the beach with her
Kathy MacMillan
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
How could you possibly handle the subject of the relocation camps that imprisoned thousands of Japanese-Americans during World War II in a way that children can understand, without it become bleak or hopeless?

Yet Sepahban manages it with quiet grace, giving us the story of Manami, a 10-year-old girl who is imprisoned with her family in the California desert. Traumatized by the experience and fiercely missing the dog she was forced to leave behind, Manami refuses to speak, grieving even as her fa
”Every day, I draw Yujiin. Some days it is one picture. Some days it is more.
Yujiin running on the sand.
Yujiin sleeping under Grandfather’s chair.
Yujiin watching seabirds dip and bob.
Yujiin waiting by the door.
Each morning, I make a wish for Yujiin to come and I send new promises in the air.”

Living with her family on Bainbridge Island in Washington, Manami lives a relatively happy and peaceful life with her parents and grandfather. Her life is made all the more joyful when she’s with her bel
Dec 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I knew that going into Paper Wishes, that the book would likely hit me deeply. While I'm not Japanese American, my family had very similar experiences during WWII. Moreover, I had several classmates whose grandparents lived through Manzanar, and was deeply moved when they chose to share their stories with us.

Manami is a ten-year-old living on Bainbridge Island in 1942, when life changes forever. Thanks to an order signed by the President, Manami, her parents and her grandfather, along with all
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing

I'm writing an article about children's books. I have a whole stack on my dining room table that I've either bought or borrowed from the library. I've never grown out of children's books. The books I read now that are favorites could never mean as much to me as the books that were favorites to me as a kid. I loved books about animals, and princesses, and scary books, and Judy Blume. I remember exactly where Howliday Inn was on the shelf at the library. So, I have a very large soft spot for middl

Brooks Benjamin
Dec 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was given an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

When I'm listening to a good song, my body can't help but function in a rhythm that matches the beat of the music. It's like every cell wants to sway in time with the sound coming through the speakers. Every now and then, I'll come across a book that is written so lyrically, so stunningly gorgeous, that it creates that exact same effect for me.

Lois Sepahban's book, Paper Wishes, is one of those books. There's a cadence to her writi
Casey Lyall
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Oh, my heart. This book.

Quiet, beautiful, and full of grace, PAPER WISHES is written in lovingly spare prose leaving pure emotion on the page. I was a mess by the end of the first chapter. The story focuses on ten-year-old Manami and her family who are moved to a Japanese internment camp during WWII. Caught trying to sneak in her dog, Yujiin, Manami is forced to abandon him before they reach the camp.

A story of heartbreak and loss, family and resilience – this was a book that will stay with me
Jenn Bishop
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a 9-12 year old, I couldn't read enough historical fiction set during World War II. I'm not sure what it was about that era, or if maybe there was just a ton of historical fiction output during my formative years set during WWII, but it became a time period that fascinated me, as heartbreaking and challenging as it must have been for so many at the time. Publishing moves through cycles and it seems that historical fiction is not so trendy these days, as I feel like I see fewer and fewer histo ...more
Barb Middleton
The personal anguish of being uprooted and sent to a prison-like internment camp are captured in the character of a young Japanese girl in Lois Sepahban's debut novel. Manami is forced from her home in Bainbridge Island, Washington with other Japanese during World War II. She has no idea what is going on when they leave and sneaks her dog with her under her coat. When soldiers force her to abandon the dog and she arrives at the internment camp, she is traumatized by the event and becomes mute lo ...more
Book Riot Community
Ten-year-old Manami lived happily on Bainbridge Island with her parents, her grandfather, and her dog Yujiin. But in March 1942, her family is given orders to vacate the island and move to a relocation camp in Manzanar, California. Manami hides Yujiin in her coat, but an officer sees her dog and demands she give it up. She kicks and shouts and screams, but her dog is taken away from her anyway. This is the last time Manami speaks for nearly a year. Readers then follow Manami on her journey to th ...more
Roshani Chokshi
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lyrical historical MG. I loved this story about family and the quiet ways we can show how we are brave.
Jen (Pop! Goes The Reader)
Did you find this review helpful? Find more of my reviews at Pop! Goes The Reader!

“Why have the soldiers come?” I ask.
“War,” grandfather says. “It means soldiers everywhere.”
“When I see the soldiers, I am scared,” I say.
“When the soldiers see you, they are scared, too,” Grandfather says.
“Me?” I ask. I do not think I look scary.
“You. Me. All of us. They think: Maybe these people with Japanese faces and Japanese names will betray us,” Grandfather says.
“But only my face and my name are Japanese,” I
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

I seem to be a magnet for books about young girls and their dogs. Authors who write these kinds of books and I always seem to connect instantly, and Lois Sepahban's book is not exception. Mind you, this book also focuses on the Japanese internment camps, something I admit, I knew about, but didn't entirely understand the lengths of.

This book is simple, if beautiful written. It looks at the story of a girl who is whisked away from her normal life and throw
Hafsa Sabira
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am a great fan of Sepahban's writing. This book hasn't disappointed either. At first I was a bit skeptical after seeing the irregular narrative. It seemed like the little girl wrote a short sentence in her diary,then stopped to think for a while,then remembered another sentence and wrote it down. Then I realized that this is very natural because this is exactly how little kids write. The writer didn't only portray the little girl's emotional state excellently but also gave a deep insight to a ...more
Dec 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Lois Sepahban's "Paper Wishes" is a sweet story relating a serious issue, the Japanese Internment camps of the 1940's. The story is about a young girl, Manami, and her family who are removed from their island home during this period. I enjoyed reading it, and even found myself teary-eyed a couple times.

I did learn quite a bit while reading this book, as I researched a lot of the events and locations mentioned in this book online. Since this is something most history classes skim over, I did not
Denise Vetromile
Dec 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love this book! Set in 1942, this story deals with the Japanese American internment camps in a way that will be accessible for upper elementary students. Themes running through the story include loss (on so many levels), prejudice, and the importance of family and traditions. But more importantly, this book provides an expanding world view of an event students will (hopefully) never have to experience.
This story takes place in California, but there were thirteen internment camps, including on
Laura Shovan
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't review books, but I do blog about them

Read my post about PAPER WISHES here:
Janet McNally
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a gorgeous book. Spare, lovely prose and a heartbreaking, important, ultimately hopeful story. A perfectly constructed jewel of a story.
Corabel Shofner
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Do your self a favor and read this book with your kids or by yourself. And find the photos of life in Japanese Internment Camps by Ansel Adams. You won't be sorry.
Franki Sibberson
Loved the character. Really well done historical-fiction about this time period for middle grade readers.
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