Wisdom From YA Authors On Leaving Home: Cynthia Kadohata Kadohata is the Newbery Medal-winning author of the YA novel "Kira-Kira." For our "Next Chapter" series, she talks about an eye-opening bus trip she took across the U.S. right before she left home.
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Wisdom From YA Authors On Leaving Home: Cynthia Kadohata

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Wisdom From YA Authors On Leaving Home: Cynthia Kadohata

Wisdom From YA Authors On Leaving Home: Cynthia Kadohata

Wisdom From YA Authors On Leaving Home: Cynthia Kadohata

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/490821717/490827653" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Kadohata is the Newbery Medal-winning author of the YA novel "Kira-Kira." For our "Next Chapter" series, she talks about an eye-opening bus trip she took across the U.S. right before she left home.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Do you remember the moment when you left home for good? This month, many young people will be experiencing that moment as they shoulder their bags and head off to college. And throughout August, we're bringing you stories and advice about that pivotal moment from authors who've written for young adults. It's a series we call Next Chapter. Today, we hear from Cynthia Kadohata. She's the Newbery Medal-winning author of "Kira-Kira" and "Half A World Away." And she says the common thread in all her books is that they focus on something that moves her.

CYNTHIA KADOHATA: I love dogs a lot, so I wrote a book called "Cracker!" about the dogs who served in Vietnam.

MARTIN: Kadohata was 17 years old when she dropped out of high school. For the next few years, she lived at home in LA and went to community college, then she finished her undergraduate degree at a four-year university. She was in her 20s when she decided she wanted to leave home and start a new life in Boston. The year was 1981.

(SOUNDBITE OF BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN SONG, "BADLANDS")

KADOHATA: I had taken a month-long bus trip - Greyhound bus trip shortly before I left Los Angeles. And I really saw the country as I had never seen it before.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BADLANDS")

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: (Singing) Lights out tonight, trouble in the heartland, got a head-on collision smashing in my guts, man. I'm caught in...

KADOHATA: For me, going on this bus trip was one of the real pivotal times in my life. I met people who I never would have ordinarily met. I was on a bus with a woman in her 80s who said she was dying, and this was going to be her last trip that she would ever take. She had lived in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl years and gone to California to pick fruit. And I was just fascinated by her life. We talked for hours on the bus, and she hugged me afterwards. I remember we were standing in, I think it was Texas somewhere, and they were grasshoppers hopping all over the parking lot. And she hugged me and told me to have a good life.

(SOUNDBITE OF BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN SONG, "SOMETHING IN THE NIGHT")

KADOHATA: And just meeting her somehow changed my whole vision of America, I think. I mean, I had always lived in America. But I didn't have an awareness, really, of being an American so much as I did when I talked to these people. And I saw that each person has their own story which is unique and incredibly valuable to hear about. And that was when I started to think that I wanted to be a writer.

(SOUNDBITE OF BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN SONG, "DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN")

KADOHATA: You should find whatever it is you feel passionate about, and find people who inspire you, who will mentor you and help you through whatever decisions you have to make.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN")

SPRINGSTEEN: (Singing) Well they're still racing out at the trestles. But that blood, it never burned in her veins.

MARTIN: That's Cynthia Kadohata. We've been hearing music from Bruce Springsteen's "Darkness On The Edge of Town," an album Kadahota says was very important to her when she left home. She is part of our series Next Chapter.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN")

SPRINGSTEEN: (Singing) Well, if she wants to see me, you can tell her that I'm easily found. Tell her there's a spot out 'neath Abram's Bridge. Tell her there's a darkness on the edge of town. There's a darkness on the edge of town.

Well, everybody's got a secret, son - something that they just can't face...

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