Thursday, May 23, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible by Suzanne Kamata

Gadget Girl Blog Tour

Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible
by Suzanne Kamata
Published by GemmaMedia
Publication Date: May 17, 2013
Pages: 256
Source: ARC provided for Xpresso Blog Tours
Purchase: Amazon

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 and have put food on the table. 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. And a side trip to Lourdes, ridiculous as it seems to her, might just change her life.

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. 

My Thoughts

Gadget Girl turned out to be completely different from what I expected. Going in I thought it was going to be about a girl who lives vicariously through the character she has created in her anonymously published manga, Gadget Girl. While this is a partly what happens, it is minor portion of Aiko's story. Aiko is an amazing artist in her own right, but she lives in the shadow of her sculptor mother serving as her inspiration for her art. On first reading, it's hard to see past how Aiko's mother exploits her cerebral palsy and makes her an unlikeable character. Who could do that to their own daughter?

Another layer to this story is Aiko's desire to meet her father. All that she knows is that he is an indigo farmer living in Japan. Anytime Aiko asks her mother about him, she gives vague responses or changes the subject. Why is her mother keeping him a secret? Why haven't they ever met? This too adds to my dislike of the mother. BUT when they get to Paris, this begins to change. And what I think is the major focus of this story reveals itself. Her mother begins to reveal bits about her past. Aiko learns that Paris is where her parents met when she always thought they met in Japan. Secrets and truths are exposed and the mother is no longer the villain that I thought she was. Aiko begins to step out of her comfort zone and live a little - be more than invisible. She doesn't feel so different in a culturally diverse city (much different from her Midwestern town). And the relationship begins to evolve between mother and daughter - Aiko becomes more that just her mother's muse. 

Gadget Girl was a delight to read.  It was funny and emotional. I would have liked to see some of the graphic art of Gadget Girl the comic. That would have been a nice addition to the story. I haven't read a mother-daughter story in a while and this one was great at showing just how complicated and dynamic those relationships can be. I would definitely recommend this book for mother/daughter book clubs.

For being on the blog tour, I have the privilege of hosting a giveaway for 5 paperback copies of Gadget Girl. These prizes are tour-wide and not specific to my blog. 
Contest is open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  This book tour is hosted by:


  1. Thanks for the giveaway! =)

  2. Thanks so much for reading and for your generous review!!


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