April was a busy month! Between Spring weddings, hiking adventures, yard work and Spring cleaning, I stayed on the go and had less time for reading. I did manage to read two books that had been on my to-read list for a while. One was borrowed from a friend and the other was a “daily deal” eReader book that I picked up for $1.99 a couple of months ago.
Kira-Kira, by Cynthia Kadohata
Kira-Kira is the story of a Japanese family in the 1950s, told through the eyes of the middle child, Katie. Katie adores her older sister, Lynn, who teaches her to look for the kira-kira (which means glittering or shining) in everything in life. Early in the novel, the family business closed and they were relocated from Iowa to rural south Georgia. For the first time, Katie realizes that she is different, as her family is one of just a few Japanese families among a town of white Georgians. They are either stared at or shunned by the people in town and treated like outsiders. Her parents take jobs at a local poultry processing plant, where they work long hours and rarely have time to spend with their three children. When Lynn becomes fearfully ill, her family starts to unravel. Because Lynn is too weak, it is Kate who must strengthen her family and help them to see the kira-kira of hope that lies ahead.
As a young adult novel, Kira-Kira was a quick and easy read. I think readers of any age can empathize with Katie’s adoration of her older sibling and also with her fears and sorrow over her family’s struggles. I enjoyed watching Katie grow and mature throughout the trials that her family endured. Kira-Kira is a great reminder to strive to see a silver lining or a positive in any situation. That beauty lies all around us, if we would only open our eyes and see it.
Nefertiti, by Michelle Moran
Nefertiti depicts the revolutionary rein of Pharaoh Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti, through the eyes of Nefertiti’s younger sister, Mutnodjemet. Her sister watches Nefertiti morph into a power-hungry queen, who goes against her family’s wishes and turns her back on the Gods. Nefertiti will stop at nothing to appease her husband’s wishes and to cement her place in history as the greatest and most beautiful Queen of Egypt…no matter the cost or consequence.
I thoroughly enjoyed Nefertiti and could not put it down! Moran captivated me with her vivid descriptions of the characters, Amarna and the rest of Egypt. I liked that the story was written from the perspective of Mutnodjemet. Nefertiti was not a likeable character, but Mutnodjemet’s loyalty and compassion helped the reader to understand the reasons behind Nefertiti’s actions. Because the history of their rein is largely lost to time, much of the book was obviously embellished. But, the author made great efforts to insert accurate historical information into the novel, when possible. But, keep in mind that this book is fiction. About halfway through, I commented to my husband that the book reminded me of The Other Boleyn Girl. I saw that a few others commented on Good Reads that they felt the same way. So, if you liked that book and are fascinated by Egyptian history, you will love this book!
What have you been reading lately? Any good suggestions? You can read my other book reviews here, here, and here.