Yumoto, Kazumi. The Friends.

Author:Julian, Janet
Position:Brief Article - Children's Review - Book Review

YUMOTO, Kazumi. The friends. Tr. by Cathy Kirano. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 170p. c1996. 0-374-42461-6. $6.95. J

From the review of the audiobook in KLIATT, March 1999: Three sixth graders, Yamashita, Kiyama and Kowalee, become obsessed with death and want to see a dead body, so they follow an old man who they assume is about to die. They see him go to the local store and find that he is not eating properly. Yamashita feels sorry for the old man and gives him sashimi; Kiyama cleans up the old man's garbage. Their attention makes the old man more energetic and he teaches them useful skills. They in turn find the wife he abandoned during the war. The old man dies in his sleep and the boys discover his body; death loses its horror for them.

This coming-of-age story is true to the human verities of the heart. Japanese children deal with the same problems as children face in America--a mother who drinks, giggling girls, taunting peers, a bitter divorce, prep school...

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