Fall into OBOB Series: While I Was Away by Waka Brown

Missed the event? Watch it HERE.

Register HERE for the Fall into OBOB virtual event series. Registration is FREE through Eventbrite and includes access to 6 virtual OBOB author events. Space is limited and donations are available on the registration page to support OBOB authors and Roundabout Books events.


Waka T. Brown, author of Oregon Battle of the Books title While I Was Away, will join us via Zoom for a Q&A from readers, parents, and teachers. Submit your questions to events@roundaboutbookshop.com. 


Blackbird Fly meets The Farewell in this empowering middle grade memoir from author Waka T. Brown, who takes readers on a journey to Japan, where she was sent as a child in the 1980s to reconnect to her family’s roots.

When twelve-year-old Waka’s parents suspect she can’t understand basic Japanese, they make the drastic decision to send her to Tokyo to live for several months with her strict grandmother. Forced to say goodbye to her friends and what would have been her summer vacation, Waka is plucked from her straight-A-student life in rural Kansas and flown across the globe, where she faces the culture shock of a lifetime.

In Japan, Waka struggles with reading and writing in kanji, doesn’t quite mesh with her complicated and distant Obaasama, and gets made fun of by the students in her Japanese public-school classes. Even though this is the country her parents came from, Waka has never felt more like an outsider.

If she’s always been the “smart Japanese girl” in America but is now the “dumb foreigner” in Japan, where is home? And who will Waka be when she finds it?

"Conversational and accessible. An emotional, contemplative tale of risking and growing." -Kirkus Reviews

"Brown’s debut explores having one foot in two cultures in an age-appropriate memoir. This personal story offers readers a glimpse at Japanese and American cultural differences while stressing that what makes things different is also what makes them unique." -Publishers Weekly


Waka T Brown was the first American born in her family. She is a Stanford graduate with a Masters in secondary education. She's currently an instructor at the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE), authoring curriculum on several international topics, and winning the Association for Asian Studies' national Franklin Buchanan Prize. She's also been awarded the U.S.-Japan Foundation and EngageAsia's national 2019 Elgin Heinz Outstanding Teacher award for her groundbreaking endeavors in teaching about U.S.-Japan relations to high school students in Japan and promoting cultural exchange awareness. While I Was Away is her debut memoir for young readers, and is followed by her first novel Dream, Annie, Dream. She lives with her family in Portland, Oregon. 

Event date: 
Thursday, October 13, 2022 - 6:00pm
Event address: 
NW Mt. Washington Drive #110
Bend, OR 97703
While I Was Away By Waka T. Brown Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780063017122
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Quill Tree Books - December 21st, 2021