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A Place to Belong

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  877 ratings  ·  187 reviews
A Japanese-American family, reeling from their ill treatment in the Japanese internment camps, gives up their American citizenship to move back to Hiroshima, unaware of the devastation wreaked by the atomic bomb in this piercing look at the aftermath of World War II by Newbery Medalist Cynthia Kadohata.

World War II has ended, but while America has won the war, twelve-year-
Hardcover, 405 pages
Published May 14th 2019 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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4.5 stars. A wonderful historical story about a family that is forced to return to Japan after World War II when main character Hana's parents give up their American citizenship in response to their terrible treatment at the hands of the government.
The family returns to small farm outside of Hiroshima where Hana’s grandparents are tenant farmers. Her grandparents are both kind and charming, and Hana bonds quickly with them.
There iare widespread food shortages, and people injured in the nuclear
Stephanie Fitzgerald
Jul 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Middle-grade readers and teachers/ those interested in WW2 history
What stood out to me:
This was a different twist on historical fiction about the round-up of Japanese Americans during WW2. This family had to
deal with the aftermath of the destruction of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan after they have been “repatriated”.
I think this would be an excellent tool for middle-grade teachers to use in lessons about Japanese internment.
Alex  Baugh
We always like to think that this country fought heroically in WWII but the truth is that this country didn't always act very admirably, and in fact, it sometimes acted down right unconstitutionally. Which is why, on Saturday, January 12, 1946, 12-year-old Hanako Tachibana, her brother Akira, age 5, and their parents have just arrived in Japan after a long journey from Tule Lake Concentration Camp in northern California.

Having lost their home, their restaurant, their possessions, even Hanako's c
Leonard Kim
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Listened to audiobook. I surprise myself with this rating, because I found the beginning terribly slow and hard to get into. Several times when I had time to listen, I chose to do something else, because this felt like such a slog. I had really enjoyed Kadohata's previous book, Checked. In that book, the presentation of all the little details felt consistent with Conor's personality and interests. In this 3rd-person book, the same piling-on just felt like author's inconsiderateness -- I don't re ...more
Jul 17, 2020 rated it liked it
A Place to Belong wasn't Cynthia Kadohata's first novel about the internment camps for Japanese Americans in World War II. Weedflower, published thirteen years earlier, takes us into an internment camp as seen from the perspective of a girl named Sumiko; A Place to Belong begins after twelve-year-old Hanako Tachibana and her family are released from four years of involuntary internment. Hanako and her five-year-old brother Akira were born and raised in the United States, but their lives were upe ...more
I wanted to like this more than I did. I think I just couldn't stomach such a sad book. The writing is lovely and worthy but I never felt terribly connected to the characters.
Mary Lee
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Five stars for being a book like no other I've ever read. Five stars for an unflinching portrayal of the human-level destruction the American government caused in the lives of Japanese Americans during/after WWII.

This was not an easy book to read. This part of American history is so very shameful. I admire Cynthia Kadohata for trusting me to infer the meaning of the Japanese words she used and then remember them the next time, but I really wished for a glossary. I could not/cannot wrap my head
I haven't ended a book with tears for a long time, and this time I did. When you read of twelve-year-old Hanako's family, coming from the internment camps, parents giving up their American citizenship to move back to the area around Hiroshima, you realize that war is not always over because the aftermath is also devastating. Hanako is American and now lost with her world broken, finding everything different and so hard to fit in. She's been rejected by her home country, the family's lost their r ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Hanako and her family---her father, mother, and little brother---are moving to Japan. The war is over, a war which the family spent interred in a detention camp for Japanese Americans. Roosevelt offered the adults an opportunity to revoke their citizenship and to be returned to Japan and Hanako's parents have decided to do this. They are going to stay with Hanako's grandparents on a country farm outside a large city, Hiroshima, a city that was rumored in the camps to have been bombed.

I loved thi
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a book that I picked up from the local library, for my mom who is not able to go far from home. She told me to read this one because it was soooo good. And she was right. My connection to the Japanese people is very close and my husband's own relatives were in the internment camps.

As I read this sweet book, I came to understand the feelings of these people in this very unfortunate situation much better. The book revealed things that I had supposed happened, because my mother fled the ea
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Biographers focus on the lives of the great. Novelists, thank goodness, can explore the lives of the not-so rich and the obscure. It can be difficult to identify with or to even like Marie Antoinette or Gandhi, but when I get my hands on a book like this one, I'm all in. Kadohata writes of the struggles of a Japanese-American family in the wake of WW11, and she does it with consummate grace. In the face of some monumental mistakes, both societal and personal - internment, prison, renouncing US c ...more
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a tough story, sensitively told. Set in the aftermath of the American Internment of Japanese Americans, Hanako and her family are repatriated to Japan, after being forced to renounce their citizenship under duress. They are "returned" to Hiroshima and Hanako is suddenly adjusting to a country and a life that is nothing like where she grew up. It's a quiet moving book -- a lot happens, but much of the emotion lurks beneath the surface. There is the awful fear of starvation, the knowledge ...more
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked this book! I think that it is a well written story about finding your home, and how family is most important through everything. I rated it 3.5 stars because I personally have read a couple books pretty similar to it, and I didn't think that the plot was so creative or original. I recommend this book if you like Historical Fiction and haven't read many books like it.
Apr 17, 2019 added it
Shelves: read-in-2019
I know very little about the Japanese diaspora of Nikkei post-World War II, and this book was an eye-opener, as well as heart warming and breaking, as told through the eyes of a young girl.

Hana's family had been held in internment camps in the US, until they were sent via ship back to Japan. Her family returns to her father's parents home, where grandmother and grandfather are still alive, and they're still barely subsisting as tenant farmers. Hana struggles with trying to figure out a whole new
First sentence: This was the secret thing Hanako felt about old people: she really didn’t understand them.

Premise/plot: Hanako and her brother Akira are traveling to Japan with their parents. It will be the first time they meet their grandparents. There will be many, many firsts both on the journey by ship, the train ride to Hiroshima, and life in a small country village. The year is 1946; Hanako’s family is one of hundreds that have renounced their American citizenship. (The parents have—not t
May 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ms-appropriate
I am sad to say that this book really didn't do it for me. I had issues with the many sentences that ended in exclamation points! for no real reason! Our main character, Hanako, is a 12-year old girl who says a lot of stupid stuff. And after she says things, she thinks, "I have no idea why I just said that." But she does it all the time. It's usually quite clear to the person she's talking to that she is lying, yet no one challenges her, so she continues doing it.
And what is up with her little b
I have read several books about Japanese internment camps during WWII. This book continues the story of some of those who were in those camps. I hadn't realized that some of the families ended up being sent back to Japan. Hanako is the daughter in one of those families. I appreciated the knowledge it gave me of what life was like in Japan immediately after the war ended. The book is set near Hiroshima and so readers also saw the aftermath of the nuclear bomb that fell on the city. The story was ...more
Shaye Miller
Jun 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
This story follows 12-year-old Hanako and her Japanese-American family as they are freed from Japanese internment camps and decide to return to Hiroshima after the United States dropped the atomic bomb. When they return, they have basically nothing, the children struggle with their Japanese, and they’re so very hungry. At least when they were in the internment camps, they were given food! It’s a thoughtful look at America as they attempt to weigh the positive and negative sides to our country’s ...more
I seem to be drawn to these "what came next" books at the moment. Rather than dwelling on the bomb that dropped on Hiroshima to end WWII, this book is the story of one of the American Japanese families in the days following the war. After being interred in sometimes harsh camps as Nikkei during the war, many were forced to renounce their American citizenship and go to live in Japan. In the case of 12 year old Hanako - this was a place that was foreign to her. While she loved meeting her grandpar ...more
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a tough book to read. Hanako has spent the last four years in an internment camp. She and her family lost their restaurant in Los Angeles, and were sent to a series of camps after the United States entered WWII. Now the war is over and her parents have renounced their US citizenship. They are headed back to Japan, to her grandparents' small farm outside Hiroshima. Hanako doesn't feel Japanese compared to the people around her, and she doesn't feel American after life in the camps. Life ...more
Jenn Bishop
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book broke my heart into a million pieces. Profound. My nephew (6th grade) keeps wanting to see Grave of the Fireflies but he's also simultaneously afraid it will be too sad for him. This book might be the first step toward that. Such a powerful story about grandparents and grandchildren, and the uncertainty of the future in the aftermath of a devastating war.
Oct 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Historical fiction for upper elementary and middle school readers. Set in WWII and afterwards following a Japanese-American family who spent four years in an internment camp. Akira and Hanoka were born in America to Japanese parents. Leaving a successful restaurant behind when they were rounded up for being Japanese, the family heads to Japan after the war to stay with aging parents. The ruin and sickness from the bombing in Hiroshima is evident. Family traditions and loyalties are interwoven am ...more
Sam Bloom
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a tough book to rate. It was a slow beginning. The development of the relationship of the protagonist and her grandparents was my favorite part. I thought there would be more historical facts woven into the story, but it is very much a relationship book. The description of culture was excellent. The theme- the title- was beautifully written and the distinguishing factor. I can see this winning a Newbery. The length of and dialect in the book will not attract many middle school readers. ...more
Ms. Yingling
Mar 05, 2019 rated it liked it
E ARC from Edleweiss Plus

Hanako's family spent WWII in an internment camp, lost their home family business, and cat, and decided after the war to return to the father's family in Japan, on a farm near Hiroshima. The father hasn't returned to Japan for almost 20 years, but his parents are thrilled to see everyone. They are tenant farmers, so are barely scratching out an existence in a post war environment where food is scarce. Hanako and her brother arrive without even their meager luggage, since
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tonja Drecker
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Hope and love shine as a constant beacon in a tale which leaves the reader sighing and praying that a a girl and her homeland find a way to survive.

Although Hanako and her brother were born in America and are Americans, her parents immigrated from Japan. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor and spending four years in a camp, they're shipping 'back' to Japan. Hanako's life is already a sea without roots as four years before, everything was taken from them—her father's restaurant, their home, their l
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This novel is based on the history of Japanese Americans during and after WWII. Twelve year old Hanako is travelling with her mother, father and younger brother to Japan in 1941. After spending years in an internment camp during WWII, the family is being expatriated to Japan. They have lost their restaurant, their home and their country. They travel to the farmland outside Hiroshima to stay with her father’s parents, the grandparents who she has never met. On the train they pass the devastation ...more
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Important read. I am thinking of making my daughter read it.
Josephine Sorrell
This is the sad story Twelve-year-old Hanako, her 5-year-old brother, and her parents. They were interned along with over 110,000 other innocent Japanese-Americans during World War II. Papa, who agitated for the internees’ civil rights, was separated and targeted for especially harsh treatment. Successful restaurant owners in Los Angeles who are now disillusioned expatriates, travel to Hiroshima to live with the family tenant farmers.

The impact of the atomic bomb!s effect and the privations of
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Cynthia Kadohata is a Japanese American writer known for writing coming of age stories about Asian American women.

She spent her early childhood in the South; both her first adult novel and first children's novel take place in Southern states. Her first adult novel was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

Her first children's book, Kira-Kira, won the 2005 Newbery Medal. Her first published s

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