Kana Goldberg will be spending the summer in Japan with her mother's side of the family. A classmate in Kana's eighth grade class committed suicide. Kana's clique is broken up after discovery their bullying may have lead another girl to take her life.
The clique is mean to Ruth because she's always seen talking to a boy the main IT girl likes. Come to find out Ruth thinks she might be bi polar. The boy is only trying to be supportive because his younger sister is bi polar
The story alternates between, Kana getting to her family in Japan with memories of how she and her friends treated Ruth. I loved when Kana would remember and reflect on how her clique treated the other girl. Thompson doesn't over play the bad actions of the girls to grab the reader, she simply creates believable bullying situations.
The story in verse, a style that's very hard to pull off. Some of the author's phrasing wasn't as sharp as I would've liked but she does a decent job of it. I would've preferred Orchards in a standard style because verse didn't enhance my emotional connection to the character.
In the beginning I thought I would hate Kana but I quickly realized, though her actions were bad she wasn't. Thompson manages to address two issues without making this feel like an issues book. Orchards was a good, well layered story. It would make an excellent book club selection. Ages 11 up