The Letters by Kazumi Yumoto

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Synopsis

By the award-winning author of The Friends

When Chiaki learns of the death of her and her mother’s former landlady, Mrs. Yanagi, she feels compelled to go to the funeral, although she hasn’t seen Mrs. Yanagi in years. As she prepares for the trip, she also begins a journey through memory, beginning right after her father’s death, when her mother took an apartment at Poplar House. Chiaki, six at the time, is overwhelmed by the recent changes, falls ill, and cannot attend school. Mrs. Yanagi ends up looking after her during the daytime. The landlady initially frightens her new charge, but as Chiaki spends more time with her, the two begin to form an odd alliance. One day Mrs. Yanagi tells Chiaki that she has been charged with a divine mission to carry letters to the dead when she goes to the grave herself. Inspired, Chiaki then begins a tentative one-way correspondence with her father, diligently entrusting her letters to the landlady. And it’s through remembering this time of her life that the grown Chiaki is able to confront her confusion about who she is now.
 

About Kazumi Yumoto

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Kazumi Yumoto is the author of The Spring Tone and The Friends, which won the Mildred L. Batchelder Award and the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Fiction. She lives in Tokyo, Japan.
 
Published January 1, 2001 by Perfection Learning. 165 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Travel, Children's Books. Fiction

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Most of Chiaki’s time as a child is spent with adults, and her childhood experiences are interpreted through her adult self.

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Publishers Weekly

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A six-year-old Japanese girl loses her father suddenly and moves to a tiny apartment in the suburbs.

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Publishers Weekly

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Yumoto conveys the tension and momentary connections between Chiaki and her mother with subtlety and exquisite pacing, often as reflected in nature, such as their discovery of the poplar tree outside their home with Mrs. Yanagi.

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