October 6, 2015
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My name is Amber Alessandra Leola Kimiko Miyamoto.Dream On, Amber's Amber Miyamoto is endearing from the very beginning. She is a girl with a 'hideous' name - or, really, several of them. Almost-twelve-year-old Amber is about to start middle school and hopes it is going to be better than elementary school was.
I have no idea why my parents gave me all those hideous names but they must have wanted to ruin my life, and you know what? They did an amazing job.
As a half-Japanese, half-Italian girl with a ridiculous name, Amber’s not feeling molto bene (very good) about making friends at her new school.
But the hardest thing about being Amber is that a part of her is missing. Her dad. He left when she was little and he isn't coming back. Not for her first day of middle school and not for her little sister’s birthday. So Amber will have to dream up a way for the Miyamoto sisters to make it on their own…
“[A] beautifully written story.”—The Independent
“One of those books that you simply won’t want to put down…five out of five stars!”—The Guardian
She has high hopes for the start of school - if only people could stop pointing out how tiny she is, asking if she's Chinese and talking abut their smartphones (which Amber, definitely, does not have).
The mix of Amber being nervous about starting a new school but wanting to make friends, her dismay over her cavewoman phone and her longer-running insecurities and doubts around her father's absence were done very well. I liked that Amber had every day concerns but that they played into the bigger issue of her dad not being there.
Then that Amber's dad is Japanese (her mother's Italian) and all that she does not know about being and looking Japanese, that she does not know anyone else who looks like her, it gave the story an added depth.
For Amber, it is hard to miss her dad and be mad at him and wonder why he is not there and question what their relationship would be like, what void he could fill. I liked how she handled things with her sister and the thoughts and problems her choice presented.
Amber is a funny, smart, talented, thoughtful young girl who is dealing with a lot, from the more everyday middle schooler problems, to larger questions about her identity. What she thinks how she thinks, and how she handles it all make for a very enjoyable - and insightful - read. Those with a father (or mother, actually) missing from their lives will find things to identify with and those not will understand some things better.
My review copy did not include the illustrations, but those i have seen are a fun addition to the text. (They seem easy to see in the Kindle preview or 'Look Inside.')
About the Author:
Emma Shevah is half-Irish and half-Thai born and raised in London. She has lived in Australia, Japan, India (her first child was born in the Himalayas) and Jerusalem before moving back to the UK. Emma has busked as a fire-juggler, been a restaurant manager, a copy writer, an English teacher, and is now a blogger and author.
Bye for now
Find Emma Shevah Online:
website // Twitter // Goodreads
Guest Post from Dream On, Amber author Emma Shevah:
Did your own experience having a Thai parent and an Irish parent play into writing the half-Japanese, half Italian Amber?
It certainly did. South London was full of Irish (and Italians and Jamaicans) when I was young and Irish culture was rich and alive in my family. Most children who are immigrants or mixed race have this exposure to their cultures at home, so they know their roots and what that means in terms of their values, traditions and customs. But I didn’t know my father or his family at all so the whole Thai part was a mystery: I knew nothing at all about Thailand and yet it was half of who I was. Kids at school called me ‘Chink’ but I wasn’t Chinese - not that I knew the difference between Chinese and Thai people then - so yes, that bewildering and insecure time was definitely one of the impulses in creating Amber.
I also wanted her halves to be different: one to be warm, loud and loving (and as I have Italian cousins, I used them as my inspiration) and one to be far-off and unusual, like Asian or possibly African. It was complicated choosing where Amber’s father should be from, actually, because it was as though I was making a statement about people from there abandoning their children, so I had to be careful. But in the end I couldn’t get around it, so I made her half Japanese. I lived in Japan for a while and loved ancient Japan and the samurai especially, plus I really wanted Amber’s artwork to be Manga-esque, because I love Manga and Japanese art and thought that, as an artist, she’d draw in that style to connect with her Japanese side. But in the end, the publishers decided against it, so I added other hints of Japan instead.
Obviously, when you draw on aspects of your life – the half-European, half-Asian thing as well as the father-leaving thing, it makes your story too close to home, so I fabricated lots to ensure it was heavily fictionalized. Amber’s mother, grandmother and sister are nothing like mine, and none of those events happened to us. But the way she feels about her father’s absence and being half and half, yes: those are sentiments mined directly from my soul, mixed with two large shots of imagination and a dash of lime, then blended with Amber’s psyche and my odd sense of humor to create a soul-infused narrative cocktail.
Thank you, Emma!
Dream On, Amber Excerpt:
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review copy provided by the publisher, via NetGalley; Spotlight content and giveaway made possible by publisher