Somewhere Among

Somewhere Among

Illustrated by: Sonia Chaghatzbanian
For Ages: 9 - 12
A beautiful and haunting debut novel in verse about an American-Japanese girl struggling with the loneliness of being caught between two worlds when the tragedy of 9/11 strikes an ocean away.

Eleven-year-old Ema has always been of two worlds—her father’s Japanese heritage and her mother’s life in America. She’s spent summers in California for as long as she can remember, but this year she and her mother are staying with her grandparents in Japan as they await the arrival of Ema’s baby sibling. Her mother’s pregnancy has been tricky, putting everyone on edge, but Ema’s heart is singing—finally, there will be someone else who will understand what it’s like to belong and not belong at the same time.

But Ema’s good spirits are muffled by her grandmother who is cold, tightfisted, and quick to reprimand her for the slightest infraction. Then, when their stay is extended and Ema must go to a new school, her worries of not belonging grow. And when the tragedy of 9/11 strikes, Ema, her parents, and the world watch as the twin towers fall…

As Ema watches her mother grieve for her country across the ocean—threatening the safety of her pregnancy—and her beloved grandfather falls ill, she feels more helpless and hopeless than ever. And yet, surrounded by tragedy, Ema sees for the first time the tender side of her grandmother, and the reason for the penny-pinching and sternness make sense—her grandmother has been preparing so they could all survive the worst.

Dipping and soaring, Somewhere Among is the story of one girl’s search for identity, inner peace, and how she discovers that hope can indeed rise from the ashes of disaster.
  • Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books | 
  • 448 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781481437868 | 
  • April 2016 | 
  • Grades 4 - 7 | 
  • Lexile ® 840L
List Price $22.99

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Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to

Somewhere Among

By Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu

About the Book

With a Japanese father and an American mother, eleven-year-old Ema has always been a part of both countries by living in Japan during the school year and spending summers in California. Ema’s life in Tokyo changes for the worse when her parents decide that she and her pregnant mother must move in with her Japanese grandparents the summer before 9/11 changes the world.

Dipping and soaring, Somewhere Among is a beautiful novel in verse that explores one girl’s search for identity and inner peace, as well as how to discover that hope can indeed rise from the ashes of disaster.

Discussion Questions

1. “Our bags sit by the door, ready. On the balcony I look up into our patch of sky. Goodbye, View. At the door, fighting tears, I look into our one room apartment. Goodbye, Home” (p. 3). What is Ema feeling as she says, “Goodbye, Home”? What is the definition of home? Do you know or have you encountered a time when you had to move? How did you feel?

2. “Papa would say I am one foot here, one foot there, between two worlds Japan and

America. There, Americans would say I am half . . . Here, Japanese would say hafu if they had to say something” (p. 7). Do you know anyone who has parents from two countries, cultures, or religions? see more

About the Author

Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu
Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu

Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu

Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu lives in Tokyo, Japan. Her work has been published in Hunger Mountain, Highlights, Highlights High Five, Y.A.R.N., and other magazines. She received a grant from the Highlights Foundation to attend Chautauqua in 2009. Somewhere Among won the 2013 Writers’ League of Texas award in the middle grade category and is her debut novel.

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