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Danny's mother lost her five-year battle with cancer three weeks before his graduation-the one day that she was hanging on to see.
Now Danny is left alone, with only his memories, his dog, and his heart-breaking ex-girlfriend for company. He doesn't know how to figure out what to do with her estate, what to say for his Valedictorian speech, let alone how to live or be happy anymore.
When he gets a letter from his mom's property manager in Tokyo, where she had been going for treatment, it shows a side of a side of his mother he never knew. So, with no other sense of direction, Danny travels to Tokyo to connect with his mother's memory and make sense of her final months, which seemed filled with more joy than Danny ever knew. There, among the cherry blossoms, temples, and crowds, and with the help of an almost-but-definitely-not Harajuku girl, he begins to see how it may not have been ancient magic or mystical treatment that kept his mother going. Perhaps, the secret of how to live lies in how she died.
- ISBN-13: 9780316209748
- ISBN-10: 0316209740
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publish Date: June 2013
- Page Count: 261
- Reading Level: Ages 14-17
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-05-06
- Reviewer: Staff
Whitney’s (The Rivals) evocative novel about living life to the fullest traces the journey of high-school valedictorian Danny Kellerman as he tries to find answers about his mother’s final months before succumbing to cancer. His quest takes him away from his Los Angeles home, where he is tormented by both his mother’s death and his breakup with Holland, the former girlfriend who left “without a reason, with barely a call.” Wanting to soothe his wounded heart and hoping to discover “the secret to how she was the most joyful person when she was dying,” Danny travels to the family’s second residence in Tokyo, where his mother received alternative treatments. Guided by the apartment caretaker’s flamboyant teenage daughter, he visits his mother’s favorite haunts, meets the people she knew (including the doctor who also served as a spiritual guide), and makes a shocking discovery about Holland. Set against the colorful backdrop of Tokyo’s bustling streets, teahouses, and markets, this intricate story vibrantly depicts the stages of Danny’s enlightenment and celebrates his mother’s sanguine attitude toward life, love, and death. Ages 12–up. Agent: Michelle Wolfson, Wolfson Literary Agency. (June)