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Literature / Kira-Kira

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A novel by Cynthia Kadohata that won the Newbery Medal for Children's Literature in 2005.

Taking place in the 1950s, the story revolves around Katie Takeshima, a Japanese-American girl who looks up to her sister, Lynn, because she reminds Katie to always look at the bright side of life by knowing that the future is always glittering: kira-kira. After her parents move from Iowa to Georgia to get jobs at chicken hatcheries, Lynn develops anemia and later lymphoma.

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Do not confuse with the Japanese Visual Novel Kira-Kira.

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Kira-Kira provides examples of:

  • Aloof Big Sister: Downplayed, but Lynn, as she enters her teens, makes a new friend, is interested in boys, and so spends less time with Katie.
  • Always Someone Better: Lynn plays this to Katie, as the former gets straight "A's", while the latter gets "C's"
  • Awful Truth: Katie being woken up to be told that Lynn passed away.
  • Beauty = Goodness: Hank Garvin, one of the few whites in the story who don't discriminate against the Takeshima family and the man who drives Sammy to the hospital after getting stuck in a bear trap. He's so handsome, Katie even forgets why she's knocking at his door.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Lynn passes away, and, after being fired, Masao resolves to move his family to another hatchery in Missouri. Before they go, to cheer up the family opts for vacation, where Katy suggest they California, where her sister's dream house would have been. When she's on the beach, Katie hears Lynn's voice in the waves saying, "Kira-kira! Kira-kira!"
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  • Break the Cutie: Lynn, due to her illnesses. At first, she seems to have a remission when her family moves into a new house but then things start going downhill after Sammy gets stuck in animal trap. After that stressful event, as her health starts getting worse and worse, her cheerful demeanor goes along with it. She dies shortly after.
  • Child Prodigy: Lynn can beat her Uncle Katsuhisa, a self-proclaimed chess grand master, at his own game.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Much of the story is Katie learning to be sensible and independent in light of her sister's illness and later on death.
  • Death by Newbery Medal: Lynn
  • Deep South: The family moves to Georgia
  • Dying Wish: Lynn's wish was to for Katie to get good grades, go to college, and take care of Mom, Dad, and Sammy.
  • The '50s: Mid to late 50s, specifically the store the family owns goes out of business in 1956.
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  • Flower Motifs: At Lynn's burial. Most of the mourner's throw roses into her grave, while Uncle Katsuhisa throws a yellow daisy and Katie a cosmos. Dad throws a white rose as a symbol of royalty and innocence.
  • Foregone Conclusion: When Lynn is diagnosed with cancer. If one remembers what time period the novel takes place in, it takes no guess as to what her prognosis is.
  • Hatsuyume: Mentioned. Katie talks about writing down her first dream of the new year as well as watching the sunrise with other families. Unfortunately,Lynn's death deprives her of good sleep for one.
  • Ill Girl: Lynn, who is at first diagnosed as being anemic and then she's later on diagnosed with lymphoma. Her being sick adds more conflict to the plot.
  • Innocent Prodigy: Lynn.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "It seemed that at this moment I was inside a story. This was the story of my life, and I did not know what any of it meant."
  • Motor Mouth: Uncle Katsuhisa is a fast talker
  • The Pollyanna: Lynn is quite cheerful and positive, even when she first gets sick. This changes as her illness gets worse.
  • The Stoic: Masao Takeshima, Lynn and Katie's dad. He's compared to the sea on a windless day, calm and mild. Naturally, him wrecking Mr. Lyndon's car after he's had enough Lynn's death and medical bills and Sammy's injury is a major Out-of-Character Moment
    • Even when he's apologizing for said Out-of-Character Moment and subsequently fired for it, he still maintains his dignity. Katie is quite impressed by this.

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