A Place to Belong Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 59 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of A Place to Belong.
This section contains 551 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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A Place to Belong Summary & Study Guide Description

A Place to Belong Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on A Place to Belong by Cynthia Kadohata.

The following version of the book was used to create this study guide: Kadohata, Cynthia, A Place to Belong. Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing Division, New York, New York, 2019. Kindle AZW file.

Hanako and her younger brother, Akira, were born in America to Japanese parents. Her father, Tadashi, opened a restaurant and Hanako worked there with him each day while her mother, Kagako, stayed at home with Akira. The work was hard, but Hanako knew they were working toward a better future for the two children of the family. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, pulling America into World War II, the American government imprisoned most Japanese living in America, even those who were American citizens. Hanako and her family were among those sent to the prison camps. They were held there until the end of the war. Tadashi made the decision that he and Kagako would give up their American citizenship so the family could return to Japan. There, he planned to live with his parents.

When Hanako gets her first glimpse of Hiroshima, she is horrified at the devastation the nuclear bomb has caused. When Hanako and her family arrive at the home of Tadashi's parents, she is thrilled to feel an instant connection with Jiichan and Baachan, her grandfather and grandmother. They seem to feel the connection as well, and she feels love in the home. However, Jiichan and Baachan are very poor, and they struggle to meet their daily needs. As tenant farmers, they have very little food and are not able to get ahead financially. Baachan has worked in the fields for so many years that her back is perpetually bent.

Hanako studied for months leading up to the trip to speak, understand, and read the Japanese language better. Despite hours of study each evening, she continues to struggle with the complexities of the written language. Meanwhile, she meets a young boy named Kiyoshi who carries terrible scars from the nuclear bomb in Hiroshima. He is responsible for his younger sister, Mimi. Hanako feels sorry for all those who are hungry, including Kiyoshi. At one point, Kiyoshi steals rice from Hanako's family and she feels guilty for allowing it to happen, but she realizes that she would do anything to ensure that Akira has enough food.

Even before they arrive in Japan, Tadashi has begun to question his decision to return. Faced with the reality that the family will never be able to escape the abject poverty and that Hanako and Akira will be destined to become tenant farmers as well, Tadashi and Kagako announce that Hanako and Akira will return to America. They will live with Kagako's sister and her family. Though they are also poor, Hanako's parents believe Hanako and Akira will have a better chance at escaping the poverty in America. Baachan cries bitterly at the thought of her grandchildren leaving, knowing they will never see each other again, but she is also certain this is their best hope for the future. As the novel comes to a close, Hanako and Akira are preparing to travel back to America. Kagako will join them as soon as her citizenship is restored. Tadashi will remain in Japan to care for his parents with plans to return to America after their deaths.

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This section contains 551 words
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