reviews

Through Eyes Like Mine
a review by Hazel Kight Witham
December 26, 2010

The quiet power of Noriko Nakada's childhood memoir, Through Eyes Like Mine, is rooted in the author's spare, graceful prose. Nakada's is the rare memoir that captures the reader through careful observations and a minimal, yet absorbing present-tense child voice.

The story opens with an image of moonlit frost on junipers on the night of Noriko's birth. Her Japanese-American father and her German-Irish mother live in Bend, Oregon, where Nori grows up with her older brother and sister, all of whom look different than everyone in the small town. When Nori is five, the Nakada's differences are highlighted by the arrival of Mitch, a six-year-old boy they adopt from Korea, who comes kicking and screaming into a family of strangers.

There is much that goes unspoken in Nori's home, and much that she is left to make meaning of on her own. Silences settle like snow in young Nori's world, masking the darker contours below. In Through Eyes Like Mine, Nakada creates a kaleidoscope of arresting images that transport readers of any age back to the mysteries of childhood and the enduring struggle to find one's place.

A Real Book
a review by Holly Troxell Collingwood
December 27, 2010

"Through Eyes Like Mine" is a real memoir. It is the story of a real girl coming of age, a real adoption, real snow days, real rope swings, real skiing adventures down the liftline, real death and how a child deals with it, real roadtrips and real love that happens inside a real home on Jones Road in Bend, Oregon.

As I read, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Nori and the different characters in her family. Each in their own way, show strength, tenacity and vulnerability when needed. The writing in the beginning is simplistic and short, signifying the simple observations of a preschooler and as she grows and matures, so does the writing style.

"Through Eyes Like Mine" made me really think about the events of my own childhood and how each memory and experience becomes a rock of foundation upon which we build our homes as adults. The Nakada home on Jones Road gets tested many times, but remains sturdy and strong for each family member to come home to every day.

Through Eyes Like Mine
a review by Amy Arellano Williams
January 4, 2011

Reminiscent of the writings of Sandra Cisneros and Frank McCourt, Ms. Nakada's memoir brings back that familiar child within us all, struggling to understand and accept ourselves for who we are. Truly powerful reading.

Damn Good Reading!
a review by Randy Hyde
January 9, 2011

Ms. Nakada has written a truly touching memoir using small vignettes of present-seeming recollections that end up showing a full, and unabashedly honest, portrait of a young mixed-race girl, an involved and organic family, and a white community that our narrator tries to make sense of. This is such a well written book - the writing is tender and economical, the observations are very present and insightful, and my favorite thing about the book - Ms. Nakada's ability to slowly mature the voice of the narrator as she ages. This is a must read for anyone interested in the subtleties of the human experience. 

Little Seaweed
a review by Kathy Talley-Jones
January 26, 2011

Named for a princess, but nicknamed for seaweed, little Nori comes to awareness as part of a loving, closely knit family. We follow her keen and minute observations of the world as she grows in understanding. She is one of the few Hapa kids in the mostly white community of Bend, Oregon. Through her skill in sports and her solid good sense, she's not bullied or teased more than most kids, but she is very aware of how she is different. We learn gradually that her father was interned with his family at an unnamed camp during World War II and that her parents moved away from their homes in Los Angeles out of a shared love for the Oregon mountains and skiing. This love is tested but clearly it is the glue that knits this family together.

The pleasure of this book is observing as Nori's awareness and sense of self unfold. The author's observations are so beautiful and accurate that even if you grew up in vastly different circumstances, you will recognize the truth of what it is like to be a child. The plot is a gentle current through this book, and though there was little suspense, I found I couldn't put this wonderful book down until I finished it. May the author write many more.

A Goodreads Review
By Diane Glazener
February 26, 2011

Noriko's ability as a writer to go back and speak with the voice of her younger self is devastatingly real. Reading this brought me back to memories of similar events that I had completely forgotten to recall! Highly recommended!

A Powell's Books Review
By Jon D. Hess
March 10, 2011

This memoir is a must read. First I read "Through My Eyes" front to back and enjoyed the world Ms. Nakada opened up for me. Her language is exquisite. The first person Tomboy voice is fresh. Now I keep the book on my night stand and whatever chapter I happen upon is a delight. Buy it!

Nori means seaweed, not princess
a review by Michele Levin
April 12, 2011
 
I like reading memoirs. I'm often amazed at how an author so different from me can free my own personal memories. Reading snapshots from Noriko Nakada's childhood reminds me of a common path that many girls travel. She beautifully captures moments of depth and intimacy with a child's simple yet multifaceted voice. Through Eyes Like Mine looks at the simple events in a family's cycle. The beauty, tragedy, joy, and spirit is in the details.

contact the author at

email: nlnakada@gmail.com twitter: @writersgrind