She Was Difficult for Me

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She Was Difficult for Me
Author: Yōko Asahina
Specifications: ISBN  978-4591155189
236 pages
13.0 x 19.0 cm / 5.2 x 7.6 in (WxH)
Category: Children & YA
Ages: 10+
Publisher: Poplar Publishing Co., Ltd.
Tokyo, 2017
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Mihiro is in sixth grade and still doesn’t know how to swim. She has a tendency to run away from things she dislikes or finds difficult instead of facing them head-on. The new girl in class, Risa, is smug and aloof and shows no interest in making friends. She claims to have a heart condition and always gets excused from swimming lessons in the pool. But after school one day, Mihiro finds her swimming with no apparent difficulty in the otherwise deserted pool and discovers her secret: when Risa gets out of the water, Mihiro sees terrible burn scars covering her right leg below the knee. Risa makes Mihiro promise not to tell anyone. The incident leaves Mihiro curious about Risa and wanting to get to know her better, but Risa remains chilly toward her. When their teacher tells them their summer-break assignment is to overcome a personal aversion, shortcoming, or difficulty, Mihiro decides to tackle the trouble she’s been having in befriending Risa.

There is a reason Risa changed schools: she started getting bullied after being left with burn scars on her leg. Her parents had a falling out over how to deal with the problem, and they no longer live together. Risa thinks her father considers her a loser for wanting to run away from the bullying. Hurt that even her best friends had distanced themselves, she had vowed that she would not make any friends at her new school.

During summer break, Risa goes to the park regularly. An elderly man engages her in conversation, and they get to know each other. One day she visits him at his home. To her surprise, Mihiro is there. She is the granddaughter the elderly man had said he’d like Risa to meet. With this encounter as the catalyst, the two girls gradually come to be friends, as Mihiro works to break through Risa’s defenses, and Risa is able to open herself up to someone else again for the first time since transferring schools. It is a tale of growth, offered up especially for tweenage children who struggle with feelings of inferiority or have difficulty making friends.