Shino Oshima practices saying her name over and over, but she just can't get out Oshima. Shino has a stutter, and it makes it extremely difficult to say words that begin with vowels. So the next day, the first day of her high school career, Shino has to introduce herself to her homeroom class, but can't get her own name out. The students laugh mercilessly and Shino feels hopelessly defeated. One day, she gets up the courage to apologize to Kayo who she accidentally injured, but Kayo isn't about to let anyone get close to her so easily after being ostracized in junior high for being tone deaf. The two strike up a rocky friendship, and Kayo realizes Shino doesn't stutter when she sings. They practice together and Kayo tries to break Shino of her crippling shyness by performing outside and signing them up as an entry for the talent show.
The last few pages of the book contain a letter from the author who says this book is mostly based on her real life experiences, and that authentic storytelling comes through. It's easy to sympathize with Shino as a reader because we probably all know someone or were targeted ourselves for being different somehow. A lot of folks have debilitating social anxieties, so Shino's story was so real and relatable. There really aren't a lot of redeemable people in this story other than Shino, though, as Kayo can be pretty mean to Shino, and almost every other character is seen making fun of someone at some point. This story can definitely build empathy for readers who don't know what it's like to live with a speech disorder, and it's also a rare chance for readers with speech disorders to see themselves as the main character of a story.
Denpa rates this title as Teen (13+). There is some mild cussing and a lot of bullying, so the subject matter would be better suited for high school audiences.
Sara's Rating: 8/10
Suitability Level: Grades 9-12
Publisher: Denpa Books
Publication Date: June 15, 2020
ISBN: 9781634429689 (Paperback)
Tags: Rating: 8/10, Suitability: High School, Manga, School Life, Disabilities, Friendship
I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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