Cohen, Emi Watanabe

The Lost Ryū

(2) 4-6 Cohen reimagines Japan two decades after World War II, with a fantasy twist. All humans have a ryū, a dragon companion, a whiskery creature born of rain and mist and small enough to fit in the palm of a hand. Kohei loves his smart, linguistically gifted Yuharu, but he also has a seemingly impossible memory of big dragons, the kind he thinks his grandfather, Ojiisan, once watched with joy. Now Ojiisan is bitter and given to drunken rages, and Kohei's widowed mother can only say, hollowly, "It's okay." Kohei teams up with his Japanese Jewish American friend Isolde (whose ryū speaks Yiddish) to find a big dragon that might heal Ojiisan's anger. The two travel deep into the sea to the palace of dragons, where Kohei gains new understanding of his family's--and his nation's--past. Cohen interweaves Japanese dragon imagery, history, and post-war culture in a story that muses on the legacies of emotion and family experiences in shaping identity after war. She blends her fantastical imagery with historical fact and realism, ­bringing readers commentary and questions on cultural identity, racism, friendship, and political activism.


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