Culture & Memoir
Suzanne Kamata (Author)
by Suzanne Kamata
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 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. 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.
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.
About the Author
Suzanne Kamata is the author of the novel Losing Kei (Leapfrog Press, 2008), a short story collection, The Beautiful One Has Come (Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, 2011) which was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and was honored with a 2012 Silver Nautlilus Award; and editor of three anthologies including Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs (Beacon Press, May 2008). Her short stories and essays have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize five times, and she is a two-time winner of the All Nippon Airways/Wingspan Fiction Contest. Her fiction for young adults also appears in Hunger Mountain and Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction – An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories (Stone Bridge Press, March 2012) edited by Holly Thompson.
Reviews for Gadget Girl
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.
For Aiko Cassidy, it’s hard enough sitting at the “invisible” table and dealing with trespassing geeks. It’s harder when her cerebral palsy makes guys notice her in all the wrong ways. Even worse, Aiko’s mother, Laina, uses her as a model for her sculptures. For privacy, Aiko conceals herself in manga; her alter ego, Gadget Girl, can rescue cute guys and tie her shoes. Aiko dreams of traveling to Japan to meet her favorite artists–and, perhaps, her father. When a sculpture of Aiko wins her and Laina a trip to Paris instead, Aiko meets handsome Hervé and discovers a startling view of her family. Kamata writes the intricacies of cerebral palsy–the little maneuvers of cooking, the jerk of an arm betraying emotion–as deftly as Aiko draws or Laina sculpts. Aiko’s awkwardness is palpable, as are her giddy crush and snarky observations. Some points remain realistically unresolved, in keeping with the garden metaphors throughout the book: “You’re not supposed to be able to see the whole thing at once. Most Japanese gardens are revealed little by little….”
Awkwardly and believably, this sensitive novel reveals an artistic teen adapting to family, disability and friendships in all their flawed beauty. —Kirkus
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, author of The Whole Story of Half a Girl and The Night Diary
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, New York Times bestselling author of Every Last Word
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
Anyone who has ever longed to come into their own will love Gadget Girl.
—Leza Lowitz, author of Jet Black and the Ninja Windand Up From the Sea
Gadget Girl is like a Japanese garden whose beauty reveals itself little by little. And the more attentive you are, the greater the beauty revealed. Aiko’s journey toward acceptance of her uniqueness, which includes that which the world deems imperfect, is told with subtlety and humor. You are going to enjoy reading this book. —Francisco X. Stork, author of Marcelo in the Real World and Disappeared.