In this magical and chilling Coraline-esque retelling of the Japanese folktale “The Melon Princess and the Amanjaku," one girl must save herself—and her loved ones—from a deceitful demon she befriended.
Melony Yoshimura’s parents have always been overprotective. They say it’s because a demonic spirit called the Amanjaku once preyed upon kids back in Japan, but Melony suspects it’s just a cautionary tale to keep her in line. So on her twelfth birthday, Melony takes a chance and wishes for the freedom and adventure her parents seem determined to keep her from.
As if conjured by her wish, the Amanjaku appears. At first, Melony is wary. If this creature is real, are the stories about its destructive ways also real? In no time, however, the Amanjaku woos Melony with its ability to shape-shift, grant wishes, and understand her desire for independence. But what Melony doesn’t realize is that the Amanjaku’s friendship has sinister consequences, and she quickly finds every aspect of her life controlled by the demon’s trickery—including herself.
Melony is determined to set things right, but will she be able to before the Amanjaku turns her life, her family, and her community upside down?
About the Author
Waka T. Brown was the first American born in her family. She is a Stanford graduate with a master’s degree 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 US–Japan Foundation and EngageAsia’s national 2019 Elgin Heinz Outstanding Teacher award for her groundbreaking endeavors in teaching about US-Japan relations to high school students in Japan and promoting cultural exchange awareness. While I Was Away is her debut book. She lives with her family in Portland, Oregon.
"A satisfyingly scary story about pushing boundaries." — Kirkus Reviews
"Brown delivers an evenly paced speculative tale whose anticipatory atmosphere sows tension." — Publishers Weekly
"A fresh take on the 'be careful what you wish for' motif." — Booklist
"Brown's eerie tale is a suspenseful, just-scary-enough story of the supernatural." — Horn Book Magazine