Ink and Ashes
Best Books, Kirkus Reviews
Best Children's Books of the Year, Bank Street College of Education
New Visions Award Winner, Tu Books
Junior Library Guild Selection
Asian/Pacific American Award Honor for Literature, Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA)
In this heart-pounding YA mystery, teenager Claire Takata stumbles on a secret from the past and must race to outrun her father's dangerous legacy.
Claire Takata has never known much about her father, who passed away ten years ago. But on the anniversary of his death, she finds a letter from her deceased father to her stepfather. Before now, Claire never had a reason to believe they even knew each other.
Struggling to understand why her parents kept this surprising history hidden, Claire combs through anything that might give her information about her father ... until she discovers that he was a member of the yakuza, a Japanese organized crime syndicate. The discovery opens a door that should have been left closed.
The race to outrun her father's legacy reveals secrets of his past that cast ominous shadows, threatening Claire, her friends and family, her newfound love, and ultimately her life. Winner of Tu Books' New Visions Award, Ink and Ashes is a fascinating debut novel packed with romance, intrigue, and heart-stopping action.
Tu Books, 9781620142110, 368pp.
Publication Date: June 1, 2015
About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
How does Maetani use Claire’s letters to her father
throughout the book to demonstrate how Claire has
changed? How is Claire the narrator different from
Claire the letter writer? What do you think accounts for
What reasons motivate Claire’s mother to keep the information about
her husband from her children? Is she selfish or selfless in keeping this
information? What would you do if you were in her position?
What are some signs that Claire’s father was a part of the yakuza?
What made the yakuza life attractive to Claire’s father? Do you think
his family and economic circumstances excuse or justify his decision
to join the yakuza?
Why might Claire’s father, Henry Sato, decide to become a judge after
leaving the yakuza? How might his experiences in the yakuza help
him in his new career as a judge? Is it appropriate for him to be a
judge? Do a judge and a member of the yakuza have similar visions or
interpretations of justice?
How does shame influence both Chase and Arakaki to hurt Claire?
What are the roots of their perceived dishonor, respectively? Why do
they think hurting Claire will help them find closure? Do you think
revenge can bring closure?
At several points throughout the novel, Claire struggles with whom
to trust. When her stepfather asks if she trusts him, she wonders, “If I
felt his love, did that also mean I trusted him?” Do you think that love
and trust are always the same? Is it possible to love someone without
trusting them, or without knowing the whole truth about them?
If Claire were to write one more letter to her father at the end of the
book, what do you think she would say or ask him? Do you think she
would forgive and accept him or has too much changed?
Maetani has said she wanted to create a book she never got to read: a
contemporary title with a Japanese protagonist. In your opinion, does
the book reinforce or shatter stereotypes of Japanese culture?
The book ends with most questions answered, but Maetani leaves the
door open for a sequel. Would you want to read a sequel to Ink and
Ashes? If so, what do you hope would happen in it?