Airplane Trails to Tomorrow

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Airplane Trails to Tomorrow
Author: Sumiko Yatsuka
Specifications: 288 pages
13.0 x 20.0 cm / 5.2 x 8.0 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Ages: 12+
Publisher: Poplar Publishing Co., Ltd.
Tokyo, 2016
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While her father is away in the next prefecture on long-term assignment for his company, eighth-grader Yū Mizoguchi must be the grown-up in the house, taking care of her mother, who suffers from severe depression and doesn’t feel up to housework, and looking after her little brother Dai, who is in the first grade. Besides keeping up with the demands of school, she must singlehandedly manage all the household chores. It is a struggle to make ends meet on her father’s meager income, and Yū dreams of somehow escaping from the humdrum life of drudgery that seems to stretch endlessly before her. She likes looking up at airplane trails in the sky because they remind her there are other places in the world and let her feel like she can go anywhere she wants.

One day the sight of a boy walking across the schoolyard captures her attention. His confident manner and penetrating gaze make her heart leap, and though she has never had any interest in boys before this, she soon finds herself head over heels in love. The boy is Tetsu Kinjō, and he’s a member of the soccer team. She and her friends Asami and Mari get the team’s faculty advisor to let them watch practices, and they volunteer to help out as team managers. Yū finds that it soothes her heart to watch Kin-chan, as he’s familiarly known, giving his all in the practice sessions.

Then one day she finds her father at home when she gets back from school. He tells her that he’s been unable to meet his performance goals at work and might be let go. Yū explodes in anger at her ineffectual father and helpless, shut-in mother. The next day, wanting to clear her head, she goes to watch Kin-chan working out by himself early in the morning. Watching him train in the morning quickly becomes part of her daily routine, and she and Kin-chan gradually begin to grow closer . . .

In this story of adolescent troubles, friendship, and love, a young teen girl’s first tentative steps toward romance while contending with unwanted burdens at home are portrayed with evocative sensitivity.