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About The Book

In the spirit of A Place to Belong, this remarkable novel-in-verse examines the aftershocks of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011 through the eyes of a young girl who learns that even the smallest kindness can make a difference.

March 11, 2011
An earthquake shakes Japan to its core.
A tsunami crashes into Japan’s coast.
Everything changes.

In the aftermath of the natural disasters that have struck her country, eleven-year-old Maya is luckier than many. Her family didn’t lose their home, their lives, or each other. But Maya still can’t help feeling paralyzed with terror, and each aftershock that ripples out in the days that follow makes her fear all over again that her luck could change in an instant.

As word of the devastation elsewhere grows increasingly grim—tens of thousands have perished—it all seems so huge, so irreparable. Already flinching at every rumble from the earth, Maya’s overcome with a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. How can her country ever recover, and how could anything she does possibly make a difference?

Before Maya can extend a hand to others, she must dig deep to find the hidden well of strength in herself in this sweeping, searing novel that shows even small acts can add something greater and help people and communities heal.


1. March 9, 2011 MARCH 9, 2011
not much time

between good morning and good-bye

out the door


Father goes one way

to catch a train east to Shinjuku

then later

I go another way

to walk to school

when all’s clear

Mother goes to the table

to work at her laptop

About The Author

Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu

Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu’s debut novel Somewhere Among, based on life in a bicultural multi-generational home in Tokyo, won the Freeman Award, SCBWI Crystal Kite Award, Writers’ League of Texas Book Award, and was a Bank Street Best Book of the Year. She still lives in Tokyo, Japan, after raising two children and experiencing the 2011 earthquake and aftershocks. After inheriting the garden work from Great-grandfather and Grandfather, she has spent a lot more time gardening. It keeps her grounded.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books (June 30, 2020)
  • Length: 304 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781481437899
  • Grades: 3 - 7
  • Ages: 8 - 12
  • Lexile ® NP The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®

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Raves and Reviews

*"An essential read, especially for anxious tweens in these uncertain times, with a message of hope and community."

– Booklist, starred review

"An affecting account of Japan’s catastrophic earthquake and the days that surrounded it.... Moving."

– Kirkus Reviews

"A compassionate window into how adults and children cope with calamity."

– Publishers Weekly, May 18, 2020

"Maya’s story is realistic and relatable for young readers experiencing anxiety from world events."

– School Library Journal - Online, June 6, 2020

"Beyond Me showcases the best of humanity under the worst of circumstances"

– BookPage, July 1, 2020

"A story of family and community, of human resilience and hope in the face of despair....Highly Recommended "

– School Library Connection, October 2020

Awards and Honors

  • Freeman Book Award Honor
  • New York Public Library 100 Best Books for Teens

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More books from this author: Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu