Shy Ways by Susan Griner tells the story of Sarah, who is half American, half Japanese. Her unique looks - freckles, slanted eyes - make her an ideal target for her school mates. They call her names, confuse her with other Asian nationalities, and don't take the time to really get to know her. Her mother, the Japanese part of the family, is one day invited to visit Sarah's little sister's class to tell them about Japan. Suddenly an alarm goes off from the nearby plant where Sarah's dad works and from that day, Sarah's mom is not the same any longer. The alarm reminded her of what had happened back in Japan, in Nagasaki, when the city was the target of an atom bomb. The event shows Sarah that her mother also has an inner strength, different from her husband's. Sarah learns to come to peace with her Japanese heritage, but how will it help her to deal with bullies?
I picked up Shy Ways by Susan Griner because I love Japan and it sounded like the story of a half Japanese kid with problems at school would be a nice book to get lost in for a while. I wasn't wrong. Of course, if you know a bit about Japan, nothing in the book will be new to you, but if you wanted to improve your knowledge, you'd go for non-fiction anyway. I found the setting and the characters ideal to relax with, to dive into the story, to be part of Sarah's life, and also to learn about the resilience of the human soul. Sarah is a great character, her little sister is adorable, and all the characters have a role to play - nobody is superfluous. I would recommend this nicely written book to readers of all ages, but especially to children and teenagers as it is set in a world they will be able to identify with.