Tsunami Girl

Tsunami Girl

By Author / Illustrator

Julian Sedgwick, Chie Kutsuwada


Personal Growth

Age range(s)



Guppy Publishing Ltd




Paperback / softback




Tsunami Girl is a powerful coming-of-age story of 15-year-old Yuki Hara Jones who gets caught up in the March 2011 Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. It's about a young person trying to work out who they are, and where they fit - and trying to do this whilst surviving the trauma of a triple disaster of colossal scale, told through both prose and manga.



Tsunami Girl is a coming-of-age story about a 15-year-old girl Yuki. She lives in England with her parents and is struggling to cope with school. She has very little confidence and suffers with anxiety. Her parents decide that she should stay with her beloved grandfather in Japan. Her grandfather is a well-known manga artist whom she is very close to. As Yuki travels to her destination there is a chance meeting with a young man named Taka. They are both around the same age and hit it off as they chat on the journey and exchange numbers. Yuki arrives at her grandfather's house and all of her memories from childhood come back as they reminisce and talk about family and her grandmother. Little did they know what was in store as the next day, the east coast of Japan is hit with a catastrophic earthquake followed by a devastating tsunami. Yuki's world is shattered forever as in the total and utter devastation, her grandfather is lost.

I really enjoyed this book; written part in prose and part manga, the book feels like Yuki's story is presented in three parts, the first being her life in the UK and her struggles to cope with school. The second journey is her trip to Japan and her experience of the cataclysmic devastation of the tsunami. However, whilst she survives the tsunami, the third part of her journey is to come to terms with the trauma and loss in what has happened. For her to find some solace, she is compelled to return to the devastation, return to her grandfather's house, and lay the ghosts of the past to rest.

The book is totally compelling. Sedgwick's depiction of Yuki's trauma of trying to survive the tsunami is harrowing. We experience first-hand the shocking and painful journey of survival; not only the physical act of survival but also the mental anguish and trauma she experiences in trying to rebuild her life after the event. It is through this we understand her absolute need and undeniable compulsion to return to Japan to find peace, not only for her grandfather but also for herself.  On her return to Japan, Yuki and Taka take on the most dangerous quest; to bring about peace for their loved ones.

The story is set in the devastating 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami, but is also filled with Japanese myths and legends. I really loved the fact that Sedgwick also includes a glossary explaining the Japanese terms he uses throughout. I felt that the book was truly brought to life through acclaimed Japanese artist, Chie Kutsuwada's exquisite and emotive manga drawings. These add so much more depth and meaning to the story and our heroes' quest.

The combination of part prose and part manga make this YA novel feel utterly unique. I would recommend the book for readers aged 11+

375 pages / Reviewed by Julie, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 11+


Other titles