“Sometimes, for no reason that I could see, he would suddenly stand up and clap his hands together really loudly. After he got everyone’s attention, he would just sit down again. He even made noise when he was thinking. When he was deep in thought, he had a way of turning his ears inside out so they looked kind of deformed. The ears would make a popping sound when they came undone.”
pp. 8-9 This is Katie’s amusing description of her Uncle Katsuhisa, a man who clearly has his eccentricities.
“Lynn took about two seconds to move a pawn. Uncle Katsuhisa took about fifteen minutes to move another pawn. Then Lynn moved a knight, and Uncle Katsuhisa looked stunned.”
p. 32 Lynn is on her way to beating her uncle at chess, even though he considers himself an expert at the game.
“They talked like their mouths were full of rubber bands!”
p. 34 Katie finds a simile to describe the way people talk in the South. This is just after she and the family have moved to Georgia.
“It was funny how so many people ignored my mother, but they were all fascinated by this little Japanese baby. Then, when he grew up, they would probably ignore him and treat him like an ant!”
p. 56 Katie pinpoints a paradox in the attitude white people have to the Japanese people in Georgia. They think the babies and some of the children are “cute,” but they are prejudiced against the adults. The reference to ants is to an earlier comment by Lynn, in which she complains that the white people treat them like ants.
“A union is when all the workers get together and fight the very people who have provided them with a job and the very people who pay the employees money to give them the means to buy a house someday.”
p. 95 This is a comment by Katie’s mother. The workers at the poultry processing plant are trying to create or join a labor union, but she does not approve of unions. She has a more traditional, conservative attitude that is deferential to the employer.
“He shouted out in his dream, ‘Call me Mister Takeshima!’”
p. 118 Katie reports on what little Sammy says. He is only about four, but perhaps he has already at some level understood that the Japanese people in the town are not treated with the respect they deserve, and this is his unconscious protest.
“In my most humble opinion, Gregg was a little pukey. His hair looked like something you would brush a horse with.”
p. 119 Gregg is Amber’s boyfriend, and she has just told Katie that he is about to move away. Obviously, Katie thinks this is no great tragedy.
“She belonged to the sky, and the sky belonged to her.”
p. 179 These are Katie’s poetic words following the death of Lynn. Lynn and she used to love lying out gazing up at the night sky, and during her illness, Lynn would like to stare at the sky day or night.
Lynn could take a simple, everyday object like a box of Kleenex and use it to prove how amazing the world is.”
p. 224 This is from the essay Katie writes as a tribute to Lynn after Lynn dies. It is a reference to the time when she and Katie climbed onto the roof with two boxes of Kleenex and threw the tissues one by one for the wind to catch them. Katie says that the tissues as they stretched over the cornfield looked like “giant butterflies.”
“Here at the sea—especially at the sea—I could hear my sister’s voice in the waves: ‘Kira-kira! Kira-kira!’”
p. 244 These are Katie’s words as she walks by the Pacific Ocean. This is after Lynn’s death, when Katie’s father takes the family to California for a vacation. Kira-kira is a Japanese word that means “glittering,” and it is a word that Lynn taught to Katie when she was very young.