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One Bird

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Overview

"STUNNING, EVOCATIVE . . . [A] well-crafted coming-of-age novel."
—School Library Journal
Fifteen-year-old Megumi was very sad when her parents broke up. But now, with her mother running off on a "trip" to her own childhood home, Megumi is left to stay with her father (who is never around) and her cranky grandmother (who is unfortunately always around).
Just when she feels that no one cares, Megumi meets Dr. Mizutani, a smart young woman who offers Megumi a part-time job in her ...

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One Bird

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Overview

"STUNNING, EVOCATIVE . . . [A] well-crafted coming-of-age novel."
—School Library Journal
Fifteen-year-old Megumi was very sad when her parents broke up. But now, with her mother running off on a "trip" to her own childhood home, Megumi is left to stay with her father (who is never around) and her cranky grandmother (who is unfortunately always around).
Just when she feels that no one cares, Megumi meets Dr. Mizutani, a smart young woman who offers Megumi a part-time job in her veterinary office helping her heal sick birds. Dr. Mizutani seems to understand Megumi without asking a lot of questions. And as Megumi finally begins to accept why her mother had to leave, she discovers a confident strength within herself. . . .
"The text gains an intensity from the discipline with which every detail of this accomplished work is orchestrated from the first page to the last."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

After her mother abandons them, fifteen-year-old Megumi tries to understand her father's need for his mistress while dealing with her own aching isolation.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Writing with her startling combination of delicacy in observing moods and incisiveness in defining individual actions, Mori revisits the premise of her first novel, Shizuko's Daughter. Once again an adolescent heroine must cope with a mother's desertion and the disgrace it causes in 1970s Japan-this time, however, the mother has not committed suicide but sought a separation from her husband. Custom dictates that she forfeit her right to see her child, 15-year-old Megumi, even though she is a devoted parent and even though Megumi's openly unfaithful father is frequently absent. Megumi navigates through her anger and frustration and, with the help of strong friends, quietly supplants prevailing conventions with her own sense of what is right and just. While initial passages and conflicts threaten to overwhelm the narrative with metaphors (e.g., Megumi nurses an injured bird back to health, then sets it free), the novel builds in momentum, gaining in complexity as it progresses. Even so, the finest element here is neither the plot nor the characters, but the keenly observed atmosphere. It is the portrait of Japan, thoughtfully probed for its ironies, that will linger with the reader. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-As in Shizuko's Daughter (Holt, 1993), Mori revisits the lives of mothers and daughters trapped by traditional values and gender roles in Japan in the 1970s. Megumi's mother tells her, ``If I don't leave your father now...I can't bear to live long enough to see you grow up.'' The woman returns to her father's home to live, forsaking her daughter and refusing to see or speak with the girl until she reaches adulthood, although she breaks her self-imposed exile to correspond through letters. Left in the care of a strict, critical, paternal grandmother and an absent father who spends more time with his mistress than his family, Megumi, 15, suffers a crisis of faith. Hurt by her mother's betrayal and hypocrisy, she quits her Bible study class and breaks her association with the pastor's family. When Megumi rescues an injured bird, she meets a veterinarian, a neighborhood outcast because of her unusual professional and personal status. The emotional support of this new friend and of a young man who was a childhood playmate bolster the girl's courage to stand up for herself to her grandmother, to her father, and to her mother. As she observes strength of will to be of primary importance to survival of the injured birds she nurtures, Megumi's innate strength, intelligence, and resilience ensure her own survival. Stunning, evocative prose both sets scenes and shapes believable, multidimensional characters in this well-crafted coming-of-age novel.-Alice Casey Smith, Sayreville War Memorial High School, NJ
Hazel Rochman
A teenager is desolate when her mother leaves home. This is a common theme in YA fiction now, from Creech's 1995 Newbery winner, "Walk Two Moons", to Woodson's spare, beautiful "I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This" (1994). Mori sets her story in Japan in 1975: 15-year-old Megumi's mother says as she packs her bags: "If I don't leave your father now, I can't bear to live long enough to see you grow up." Megumi's father forbids her to have contact with her mother; in their male chauvinistic society, divorce is a disgrace; he has the money, the power, and the freedom to have a mistress, and his domineering mother runs his home. As in her highly acclaimed first novel, "Shizuko's Daughter" (1993), Mori writes with subtlety and drama, but this story is far too ruminative. The first-person, present-tense narrative often reads like an essay as Megumi articulates how she feels and what it means and repeats herself many times. She finds metaphors everywhere and explains them, whether it's the fairy tales her mother read to her as a child or the wounded birds Mori helps fly free. Of course, some serious readers will love all the detail of Megumi's coming-of-age as she loses--and finds--family, faith, friends, and mentor.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780449704530
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/1996
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 256
  • Lexile: 890L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.50 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2001

    great book for young adults

    This is a book about a book about a 15 year old japanese girl named Megumi who when her mother leaves to live with her grandfather is forced to live with her a father who is never around and a cranky grandmother just when Megumi feels no one cares she meets Dr Mizutani a smart young women who offers Megumi a part time job at her vet cliniqe to help heal sick birds Dr. Mizutani helps Megumi find strenght she didnt know she had

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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