The Language Inside Holly Thompson Delacorte Press Published May 2013* Author Holly Thompson uses free verse to weave together a great multi-cultural story about family, friends, love, hardship, and what to do when the language inside doesn’t match the language outside. The main character, Emma, and her family move from Japan (the only home Emma has ever known) when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer. The family moves to Massachusetts to stay with a relative so that her mom can be treated in Boston. Her mother’s breast cancer and the move all leave Emma with a lot of stress and she starts to suffer from severe migraines. Emma also experiences a lot of guilt for having left Japan right after it has been struck by the tragedy of a Tsunami. She feels she should be there with her friends to help clean up the destruction and start rebuilding. Her grandmother signs Emma up to volunteer at a long-term care facility while she’s in town. She is there to help Zena, a patient who suffers from locked-in syndrome, write poetry. The only way Zena can communicate is with her eyes. Emma has to hold up an alphabet board organized by row and color, reading each one out until Zena looks up to select a letter. I found this dynamic of the story to be very heartwarming as we get to watch Zena and Emma’s relationship grow as they connect with one another through their mutual love of poetry. This book deals with a lot of different issues; breast cancer, locked-in syndrome, post traumatic stress disorder, and migraines, to name a few, but it does so effortlessly, weaving the issues together into one coherent and touching story about one girl’s journey to find herself. ~ Amanda
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