Saturday, January 23, 2016

"Up from the Sea"

Leza Lowitz’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Huffington Post, Shambhala Sun, Asian Jewish Life, and Best Buddhist Writing of 2011. She has published over seventeen books, including the APALA Award–winning YA novel Jet Black and the Ninja Wind, which she cowrote with her husband, Shogo Oketani, and the bestselling Yoga Poems: Lines to Unfold By.

Lowitz's new book is Up from the Sea, a novel in verse for Young Adults about the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. BuzzFeed chose the novel as one of five new YA novels you should read this January.

Lowitz applied the Page 69 Test to Up from the Sea and reported the following:
Page 69 finds Kai, 17-year-old boy whose village has been destroyed in the tsunami, finally leaving the auditorium where he and the others have been sheltered for days. He and his best friend Shin are walking through their ruined town when the PA system chimes at 5 o’clock. Kai automatically starts to walk toward home, just like he’s always done. (In Japan, a PA system is used by communities to remind kids to go home for dinner). There’s just one problem: Kai’s home is no longer there, and his mother and grandparents are missing. Annoyed, Kai says that they should turn off the announcement, and Shin agrees. Kai loses it, snapping at his best friend, whose family has survived. Because “people who didn’t lose anyone/can’t really understand.” The rain beats down.

Kai runs away, into the wind along with wild-eyed dogs and cats who’ve also been abandoned. When he finds the warped skeleton of the place he used to call home, he gets down on his knees and claws through the slime bare-handed, realizing that all he’s ever known is really, truly gone.

It’s from that low point in the novel that Kai eventually becomes a man, makes a home within, and helps others who’ve lost everything in the disaster find hope again.
Visit Leza Lowitz's website.

--Marshal Zeringue