On a remote beach on the west coast, Ruth, a novelist, finds a Hello Kitty lunchbox with a journal and other artifacts, all secured in a ziplock bag. Is it from the tsunami? It seems too early to be traveling across the ocean, though some other items have been found along the beach.
As Ruth begins to read the journal, she wonders what has happened to Nao, the 16-year old writer of the diary. Nao's diary is attempting to document the life of her 104-year-old great grandmother, a Buddhist nun, but Nao's writing also pulls you into her own life, revealing curious details and descriptions that make you want to learn more. She writes about her past as an ordinary American girl, the daughter of a Japanese computer programer, and how she hates her father for her forcing them to move back to Japan after the economy collapses. She hates her Japanese school and feels like an outsider in a culture she struggles to understand. Tragically, Nao writes in the diary that she wants to end it all.
As the reader, you also get to read Nao's Journal along with Ruth. Nao's voice came through as a true character. I found myself rushing through Ruth's parts to get to the next segment written by Nao. Overall, this is beautiful and poignant book that you won't want to put down.
Recommended by Carol Landis