The Language Inside - YA Review by Sophie D

Reader: Sophie D
Age: 17
Title: The Language Inside
Author: Holly Thompson
Publisher: Random House
Pub Date: 05/14/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: This book was exceptionally beautifully written. It was in poem form, which really added to the character's voice and the overall feeling and atmosphere of the book. It also was a very interesting situation for a main character, and one that I really enjoyed reading about. Because Emma does not look Japanese, no one really understands her connection to the country. The secondary characters were also beautifully developed. Zena is a patient who Emma helps write poetry at a care center. She talks with her eyes, but manages to have the strongest character voice in the book. Her poems were very striking as well, and they made me really admire the author for putting so much thought and effort into a character.
Memorable or Forgettable: I loved all of the different themes of the book and how they all came together. At first the many themes seem discordant - there are themes of Japanese identity, Cambodian identity, overcoming physical setbacks, poetry, and mother-daughter relationships - but they are woven together and are reflected in many different characters in the book. It is the kind of book where you finish it, and then just need to sit and think for a moment about all of the different connections in the book that were only apparent once you were finished.
Cover: The cover is nice. I like the reflection of her face in the glass, and how it has a travel-y feel. I also really like the stitch-like font of the title.
Age Range: 12 through 17
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: When Emma's mother discovers she has breast cancer, the whole family is forced to move to Massachusetts from Japan - the only place Emma has ever called home. While feeling that she is out of place, Emma meets a group of Cambodian dancers and a paralyzed poet who make it hard for her to leave.

tags: prose / free verse / coming of age / cross-cultural complexities / ya lit

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