The Friends

by Kazumi Yumoto

Other authorsCathy Hirano (Translator)
Paperback, 2005


Farrar Straus Giroux (2005), Edition: Reprint, 169 pages


Curious about death, three sixth-grade boys decide to spy on an old man waiting for him to die, but they end up becoming his friends.

User reviews

LibraryThing member robincar
Three twelve-year-old Japanese boys become curious about death and dead people after the death of one of their grandmothers. So they decide to spy on an old man who they believe is going to die soon. However, things don’t work out as the boys expected as they begin to make friends with the old man and they find themselves learning about life and friendship as well as death. This book treats the subject of death and children’s curiosity about it quite respectfully. The story also gives a glimpse into the life of a Japanese student, busy with the demands of school, cram school, sports, family life, and worry about the future. The characters are all subtly established and the boys grow up quite a bit throughout the book. This book, its themes, and the characters would probably resonate best with kids in fourth through seventh grade. This book is translated from the original Japanese and is the winner of the 1997 Mildred L. Batchelder Award for translated children’s books.… (more)
LibraryThing member fingerpost
Kiyama and his two best friends, Yamashita and Kawabe, are morbidly fascinated with death after Yamashita's grandmother dies. Learning that there is an old man who lives alone in a little dump of a house nearby, and is not expected to live much longer, they decide to spy on him regularly so that when he does die, they can see it. This morbid idea leads the three boys to learn a great many things. A little about death, but a lot about life.
This is a Japanese novel translated into English. There are a few little shocks - just things that would feel out of place in a middle grade novel written in the West, including the very premise of the novel... three sixth grade boys spying on a lonely old man and waiting for him to die. But it is a sympathetic and very human tale in the end.
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Original language


Physical description

169 p.; 5.15 inches


0374424616 / 9780374424619
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