Cynthia Kadohata's new book just won the National Book Award, and it is well deserved. This book made me feel like a 12 year old again.
Summer's family is having a year of bad luck. She has just recovered from a deadly bout of malaria, her autistic brother's only friend moved away, and now her parents have been called back to Japan to care for ailing relatives right at harvest time.
Summer's parents and grandparents work as harvesters driving the combines that harvest wheat. With her parents in Japan, her grandparents will have to earn enough money working alone to pay the mortgage.
Summer is a hard worker, too, helping her grandmother prepare the meals for the combine drivers. As Obaachan's back pain increases, Summer takes on more of the cooking responsibility. But Obaachan is still hard on her. She criticizes everything Summer does including the crush she has on the boss's son, Robbie.
Jiichan, Summer's grandfather is a hard worker and a story teller. He is also Summer's favorite person. Most of the family's earning capacity falls on him, and there is no one to take up the slack if anything happens.
I love this wonderful book that seems to come straight out of the mind of a 12 year old girl about hard work, growing up, and figuring out who you really are.