While I Was Away — Review & Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”
~ Walt Disney ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:

I think writers can probably use a little therapy now and then. Writing a memoir can be very therapeutic. HERE C. S. Lakin at Live Write Thrive has 10 Tips to Writing True-Life Stories.

When I read the post HERE (6 Places Infodumps Like to Hide in your Novel) by Janice Hardy at Novel University, I realized just how bad I am about infodumping! I have some work to do.

Have you thought about buying software that will help you in your writing? I know I have. I think I might really pull the trigger soon on one of these. Just Publishing Advice has a great post HERE comparing several.

It has been a year now since the pandemic really took hold and all our lives changed so much. Two weeks ago I was able to get my second shot. Who knew a year ago that this is where we would be now. My daughter Sara told me it would probably be two years before we could get back to some semblance of normal, and I began to think that might well be true as the time ticked on, but thanks to the miraculous work of scientists and some great decisions about distribution by the new administration, I think it will be much sooner. So how has my life changed now that I am vaccinated? Not much really. I will still wear a mask when I go out, but I think I will go out much more. I will still wash my hands a lot and carefully. That’s just good common sense. But I had permission from Dr. Fauci for something very important, and for the first time in a year, last night I hugged my beautiful granddaughter Gracie, my daughter Sara, and my wonderful son-in-law Gordon. I had no idea how emotional that would be, but both my daughter and I teared up pretty well. It was probably the best moment I have had in a year. Now I have to hurry up and use all the pandemic memes I saved! That’s a good problem.

I don’t read a lot of memoirs. (I say that, but as I write, I am actually reading another memoir. Stay tuned. I will write about it here soon.) It is a genre that I never found as interesting as fiction, although I have read a few through the years that were pretty good. Also, it seems to me there are very few middle-grade memoirs. I am not even sure how I decided to choose While I Was Away by Waka T. Brown when it came up for review for the Portland Book Review, but choose it I did, and I was really taken with the book. For one thing, I think it will really open kids up to the idea that their lives are important, the problems they deal with are things lots of kids have to deal with, and that their stories are worthy of being told. For another, the story was most compelling and the writing was wonderful. Here is the review I wrote for PBR.

Waka is twelve and enjoys being a sixth-grader in her home state of Kansas. She has two best friends, a great teacher, and life is good, and her parents suddenly announce she will miss the last couple weeks of sixth grade and the first several weeks of seventh grade because she is going to live with her grandmother in Japan for over five months. Her parents want her to improve her knowledge of the Japanese language and of her cultural background. She already speaks and writes some Japanese, but going to a Japanese school is going to be very hard. And she will miss her family and friends. And she really doesn’t know her grandmother!

Waka T. Brown

There are few memoirs in the middle-grade category. This should be a very welcome addition to the canon. Waka T. Brown’s story is very compelling, reads like a novel, and is extremely well written. Readers (kids and adults) will be fascinated to read the differences and similarities between American and Japanese schools, cultures, and families. The relationship is so telling between Waka and her grandmother, and watching how they change over time is brilliant. Don’t miss this wonderful book.

I have a gently-read ARC for one of you. All you need do is be a follower or subscriber (it’s free!), have a U.S. address, and leave a comment below. If you would like extra chances, please share the link to this post on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media outlet and let me know you have done that. And don’t forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at the Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE.

26 thoughts on “While I Was Away — Review & Giveaway”

  1. That’s awesome you can safely hug your family. I can register for my vaccination today, though It will be awhile before I get an appointment. Can’t wait.

    This sounds like a great story, but I’m buried in books so will let someone else win.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think I need this memoir, Rosi, because the book I put in a drawer is a fictional memoir written in pen pal letters. I am stuck, so this book anout Waka might inspire me to infuse more emotion and action. Thanks for all you do, sharing with us MG readers and writers. Beth

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the links, Rosi. I will check out the one about info dumps. I didn’t know there were MG memoirs, either. This sounds interesting. I received my first vaccine last Friday, my husband gets his 2nd one on Thursday.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So happy you got to hug your family over the weekend! I am pleased that that so many people are getting vaccines. We get our second vaccine on Wednesday.

    While I Was Away sounds like a fascinating memoir. It sounds like it will give readers great insight into the Japanese culture. I have reviewed a few MG memoirs, but more YA. Thanks for sharing today.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I just finished reading an adult memoir ARC that read more like a fictional story and I was surprised how much I really enjoyed it. I am currently studying Japanese and I would love to read this book to increase my empathy for those in my community. Many of my friends are Japanese and send their children to our Japanese school (we are so blessed to have the school in our city and a large Japanese population) and I see how hard these kids work on Saturdays to prepare for Japanese exams. I shared on tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. First, congratulations on the hug. I get it. My eldest daughter built special hug suits that included shields, masks, and plastic robes. They were clumsy, but we sobbed. I get my second shot on Friday, and as soon as my daughter (in a medical position) gets hers, we are planning more hugging.

    This memoir sounds fabulous! I’ve always enjoyed movies and books based on true stories, so the real deal from the voice of the person who lived it sounds even better to me. I’ll be sharing on Twitter and Facebook.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My info-dumping habits have improved over the years but the link was still helpful. I’m also always on the lookout for writing software help. and there were several good ones. I’ve come close to getting Grammarly in the past so this might convince me to click the subscribe button.
    Wonderful thoughts today on the pandemic. It all seems to be getting better. I can’t wait to get a vaccine when my number comes up.
    WHILE I WAS AWAY is a story I would enjoy. I have added it to my TBR list but let someone else win as more books keep arriving on my doorstep every week. I’d love to see memoirs take hold in the MG world.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t read many MG memoirs either (although a few Raina-Telgemeier-imitating ones sneak into my graphic novel reading). Still, I’m definitely not opposed to them, and While I Was Away definitely sounds great! (I also love the cover.) I’m super-glad you got to hug some of your family, though I really wish that was not a sentence I ever had to write! The meme is hilarious—Newton is certainly an enigma—and the quote is great as well. I’ll pass on the giveaway before my bookshelves explode, but thanks for the great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t think I’ve ever read an MG memoir. This one sounds interesting. All the sites you shared also sound interesting. At present, I don’t’ have much reading time, but they sound good to check out later. I’m so happy for you and your family. We missed being able to get together with our godfamily before we left. It was a real wrench.

    Liked by 1 person

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