cover image The Color of the Sky Is the Shape of the Heart

The Color of the Sky Is the Shape of the Heart

Chesil, trans. from the Japanese by Takami Nieda. Soho Teen, $18.99 (168p) ISBN

Chesil’s introspective debut, set in 2003, follows 17-year-old Tokyo-born Korean Pak Jinhee, who goes by Ginny Park and has never felt at home in the many places she’s inhabited. After fleeing from discrimination for being Zainichi Korean in Tokyo and getting expelled from a Catholic high school in Hawaii, Ginny lives in Oregon with her presumed-white host mother, Stephanie, an award-winning author. Once again facing imminent expulsion, Ginny has three days to decide if she’ll apply herself academically and take control of her future, or remain resigned to her fate, until she’s inspired by Stephanie’s writing—“The sky is about to fall. Where do you go?”—to dive headlong into the past she’s been running from. Using a nonlinear narrative and short chapters interspersed with letters from Ginny’s grandfather, who lives in North Korea, Chesil’s intimate-feeling novel offers glimpses into Ginny’s life leading up to the present, including the incident that compelled her to leave Tokyo. Ginny is an exceptionally complex character, who is both quiet and reserved while brimming with passionate determination to combat injustice. This affecting novel sensitively explores diaspora, prejudice, and the struggle of finding a place to belong. Ages 13–up. (Apr.)