Anna and the French Kiss meets Stoner & Spaz in a contemporary young adult coming-of-age novel about a girl, her struggles, and her art. Aiko Cassidy is fifteen 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 figures that have made her mother famous. Aiko works hard on her own dream, becoming a sought-after manga artist with a secret identity. When Aiko's mother invites her to Paris for a major exhibition of her work, Aiko 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.
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“Suzanne Kamata has created a memorable character in Aiko–a unique girl balancing the desire to be ordinary and extraordinary. Though she’s dealing with some difficult obstacles in her life, her desire is particularly relevant and universal to the adolescent experience. An absorbing tale about adversity, art, love, and the courage to accept one’s self and others. A pleasure to read!” —Veera Hiranandani, The Whole Story of Half a Girl “Anyone who has ever longed to come into their own will love Gadget Girl.” —Leza Lowitz, author of Jet Black and The Ninja Wind “Spunky heroine with big dreams? Check! Trip to Paris? Check! Hot French waiter? Check! Gadget Girl has everything a reader like me could wish for, and more. I love this story.” —Tamara Ireland Stone, author of Time Between Us “Suzanne Kamata beautifully captures the essence of what it feels like when you’re learning to be who you already are.” —Andrea J. Buchanan, author of the multimedia YA title Gift and co-author, The Daring Book for Girls
“Kamata’s love and intimate knowledge of Paris streets add atmosphere to this smart and surprising coming-of-age story. Readers will feel whisked away by the romance of an artistic life and appreciate the sensitivity and honesty with which Kamata writes about Aiko’s physical and emotional journeys.” —Publishers Weekly
“Originally a novella published in the magazine Cicada and the winner of the SCBWI Magazine Merit Award in Fiction, Kamata’s latest is a sharp, unusual coming-of-age novel.” —Kirkus
Aiko, who has cerebral palsy that affects her left hand and leg, is the 14-year-old secretive creator of a manga comic starring Lisa Cook as Gadget Girl, who, after swallowing a shooting star, is endowed with not only superhero strength but also extreme precision. Aiko also serves as the reluctant muse to her midwestern American mother, an award-winning sculptor who has been invited to Paris, even as she longs for a connection to her birth father in Japan. In an elegant, polished writing style, Kamata traces Aiko’s growth, in part, through her relationships with the supporting characters in her life, from her Hollywood-crazed best friend Whitney, to a French waiter who becomes her first love interest, to her stepdad. Aiko and her mother ride the rough patches of adolescence and identity with honesty as Aiko’s desire for a connection to her Japanese family and culture deepens, and readers will easily connect with her awakening desire to lose her sense of invisibility. Grades 8-11. Booklist
Suzanne Kamata’s books include Losing Kei; The Beautiful One Has Come, (long-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award); and three anthologies. Her short stories and essays have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize five times. Suzanne Kamata lives in Tokushima, Japan with her husband and her bicultural twins.