I'm excited to have the Gadget Girl Blog Tour stopping by today! Below you'll find my review, a fun interview with the author, and a fab giveaway...
by Suzanne Kamata
ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS meets STONER AND SPAZ
Aiko Cassidy is fourteen and lives with her sculptor mother in a small Midwestern town. For most of her young life Aiko, who has cerebral palsy, has been her mother's muse. But now, she no longer wants to pose for the sculptures that have made her mother famous and have put food on the table. Aiko works hard on her own dream of becoming a great manga artist with a secret identity. When Aiko's mother invites her to Paris for a major exhibition of her work, Aiko at first resists. She'd much rather go to Japan, Manga Capital of the World, where she might be able to finally meet her father, the indigo farmer. When she gets to France, however, a hot waiter with a passion for manga and an interest in Aiko makes her wonder if being invisible is such a great thing after all. And a side trip to Lourdes, ridiculous as it seems to her, might just change her life.
Gadget Girl began as a novella published in Cicada. The story won the SCBWI Magazine Merit Award in Fiction and was included in an anthology of the best stories published in Cicada over the past ten years.
an eARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review
Suzanne Kamata's Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible is a charming and quirky YA Contemporary book with a unique and memorable main heroine.
Fourteen year old Aiko lives in Michigan with her artist mother. Aiko has cerebral palsy and has long been the subject of her mother's famous artwork, but Aiko wants to be known for her manga art. Gadget Girl is Aiko's secret manga creation, featuring a heroine that Aiko believes she will never be (beautiful and brave). Aiko longs to visit Japan, the Manga capital of the world, and also the home of the father she has never met. But when her mother wins an art contest in Paris, Aiko must spend her summer in France. A cute French waiter with a love for manga of his own and an interest in Aiko, changes the way Aiko sees both herself and her mom.
Suzanne Kamata has crafted a cute and heartfelt story about family, acceptance, and first serious crushes. With a fun French setting, thoughtful mother/daughter relationship, and the neat manga infused elements, Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible is certainly an entertaining, quick read.
Kamata is an effective and enjoyable storyteller, who has given her story a great deal of heart and depth. Aiko's cerebral palsy and the ways it affects her life and self image, and her complicated and realistic relationship with her mother make for an often poignant story. Kamata doesn't sensationalize Aiko's cerebral palsy or use it to play on readers' sympathies, nor does her disability define Aiko's character, which I really appreciated. This is a very character driven story and, while her cerebral palsy doesn't define Aiko, it does give her a unique and refreshing voice. For the most part, I really liked Aiko and her wry, honest observations. At times though, I found her anger and resentment toward her mother, and her almost reverent way of thinking about the father she never met, to be too much and hard to relate to.
I really liked Aiko's love of manga and the fact that she has created her own manga series, Gadget Girl. And Gadget Girl herself is a pretty cool character. All the manga love and appreciation adds such a fun geeky coolness to the story.
I really like the fun French setting, which Kamata paints beautifully. And who doesn't love cute, sweet French boys?! Herve makes for an adorable and likable major crush for Aiko. Aiko is only fourteen so the fun flirting between these two never goes further than the butterflies in your stomach, holding hands, and innocent kisses kind of flirting. But I liked the interaction between the two teens and how Herve has a positive impact on Aiko's self esteem.
The story itself moves a bit slowly and needs tightening to remove unnecessary filler, and I would have liked to have seen Aiko get more closure where her absent father is concerned. But the ending is heartwarming and made me smile.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible is an enjoyable and thoughtful read with a likable main character and some fun elements.
What three words best describe GADGET GIRL: THE ART OF BEING INVISIBLE?
Art, Paris, MangaCan you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers (especially reluctant readers) why they should give GADGET GIRL: THE ART OF BEING INVISIBLE a try?
Aspiring manga artist Aiko Cassidy goes to Paris with her mother, where she meets a cute French guy and learns the truth about her father in this short, easy-to-read novel.
Grab a copy of GADGET GIRL: THE ART OF BEING INVISIBLE and answer the following:Favorite chapter?
Chapter 21Favorite page?
Page 204Favorite character?
Flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentence teaser:
“In my head , I’m already dining on sushi and seaweed soup, but then I look inside and see that we’re going to…Paris”What inspired GADGET GIRL: THE ART OF BEING INVISIBLE? What do you hope readers walk away with after reading your book?
This book was inspired by my 13-year-old daughter, who has cerebral palsy, and who is an aspiring manga artist. I actually started writing this book seven years ago, before my daughter started drawing manga, so maybe she was influenced by my imagination. It’s also inspired by my love of Paris. Most of all, I hope that readers will feel satisfied and entertained. And it would be great if they were inspired to pursue their own artistic dreams!Why do you think it's so important for characters with special needs, like your main character Aiko, to be featured and given the chance to shine in Young Adult literature.
In the real world, there are many people with special needs, but they don’t show up all that often in books and movies, which suggests that their stories are not worth telling, or that they don’t matter. My daughter is not happy about having special needs, but she is always, always thrilled when she comes across a character in a book or movie who is deaf or uses a wheelchair. Reading about others, like ourselves, validates our own experiences. Reading about people who are different helps us to understand them. I think that reading and writing about characters with special needs adds empathy to the world and makes it a better place.
Are you a manga fan like Aiko? Any particular manga you'd recommend to YA readers, especially newbies?
I tend to prefer novels, but I have developed an interest in manga.I really like The Rose of Versailles, by Ryoko Ikeda, which is a classic. It’s never been released in English, though it was huge in France and in other countries (and you can read it in English online, though it’s not exactly legal). It’s a great story with a strong female character, forbidden love, and Marie Antoinette.Another favorite, more contemporary story is Nana by Ai Yazawa about a punk rock singer in Tokyo and her more demure friend. Very cool.What's it like living in Japan? How has the Japanese culture influenced your work?
As a white American in Japan, I can never quite fit in. I’ve developed a lot of sympathy for the two or three Asian kids who I went to school with in Michigan! Also, there are lots of rules, that I always tend to break unknowingly. On the plus side, being an outsider gives me a degree of freedom that most people don’t have. I’m not really expected to belong entirely, so I don’t try. As a writer, I think being on the margins is just fine. And since I write in English, I don’t have to worry about offending my neighbors and co-workers, who speak only Japanese. They don’t even know that I’m a writer!Japan has become my main subject. I wrote Gadget Girl partly because I wanted to try to write about something other than Japan, but of course some elements of this country still crept in.
I'm really awesome at___.
making miso soupI'm really embarrassed to admit that___.
I’ve never been able to do a cartwheel.My first literary crush (author or character) was___
Heathcliff from Wuthering HeightsIf I were a superhero, my superpower would be ___ and my superhero name would be ___
teleportation and Suzy SlashThe last great book I read was___
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow RowellIf you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by GADGET GIRL: THE ART OF BEING INVISIBLE what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?
Of course it would be chocolate with maybe some sort of Eiffel Tower motif. (The Eiffel Tower is rather gadgety, is it not?) And maybe a sprinkling of green matcha tea to give a wink to Japan. I’d call it A Miracle in Your Mouth.
Five-time Pushcart Prize nominee Suzanne Kamata is the author of the novels Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible (GemmaMedia, 2013) and Losing Kei (Leapfrog Press, 2008), and editor of three anthologies - The Broken Bridge: Fiction from Expatriates in Literary Japan, Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs, and Call Me Okaasan: Adventures in Multicultural Mothering (Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, 2009). Her short fiction and essays have appeared widely. She is the Fiction Co-editor of literarymama.com.
You can win 1 of 5 paperback copies of
This blog tour wide giveaway is open internationally.
Enter through the Rafflecopter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway