Francie, the heroine and narrator of the book, is a nineteen-year-old Japanese American woman. The story is told through the prism of her first-person awareness and recounts the development of her social and cultural attitudes. In using a young narrator to describe a strange future universe, Kadohata gains the advantage of being able to have her character assume the novelties of the future rather than convey them to the reader in a didactic manner. Francie spent her childhood in Chicago but moved to Los Angeles in her early teenage years. Her parents died prematurely, leaving her in the care of her Auntie Annie. At first confused by the complexities of adult life and by the bleak circumstances of her own life, Francie matures in the course of the novel. In contrast to the older women in the book, Auntie Annie and Jewel, Francie does not let the obstacles posed by the persistent misogyny of her society stand in her way. Through her work on the school newspaper, her romance with Mark, and her other friendships and loyalties, she develops a strength that enables her to face courageously the difficult social problems that exert so much pressure upon her.
Auntie Annie, Francie’s aunt, is desolated by the disappearance of Rohn. Somewhat hapless and vulnerable at times, she nevertheless is a stabilizing influence on her niece.
Rohn Jefferson, Annie’s boyfriend, gets on the wrong side of the law simply by trying to provide for his family. His...
(The entire section is 479 words.)