Lora Nakamura, with her grandmother Mitsuko Yamamoto, a Kibei Nisei who was interned at Heart Mountain.
Lora Nakamura, with her grandmother Mitsuko Yamamoto, a Kibei Nisei who was interned at Heart Mountain.

First-time author and illustrator Lora Nakamura will soon release her fully illustrated 56-page book, featuring characters with bonsai tree hair.

The hair is an homage to the author’s Japanese heritage and represents the characters’ unique struggles and beauty. The story centers on a chance encounter between Luna, a Mexican American girl from Downtown Los Angeles, and Nana, a Japanese American girl from the San Gabriel Valley. Although worlds apart, they find a space of intersection on an L.A. playground, forming a friendship that changes the course of their lives.

Nakamura is a fourth-generation Japanese American with a background in education and social work. She received her B.A. in Spanish literature from UC San Diego and her Masters in Social Work from Cal State Long Beach.

In titling it “A Love Story,” the author offers the reader a glimpse of the multiple levels of love seen in the book, from family relationships to, ultimately, the special bond of the two main characters. And it is within these interactions that the complexity and beauty of love is portrayed.

But while love is the focus, the book also highlights the beauty and diversity that is Los Angeles with the coming together of the girls’ two cultures and the backdrop of familiar L.A. sightings, such as the San Gabriel Valley’s food and dim sum scene. While the interaction of the characters is often playful and funny, the story is multi-layered, which allows for a broad audience.

Seen simply, the young reader may see it as a story of love and friendship, while the teenage and adult reader may delve into the deeper layers of fear, cultural identity, and loss. Understanding that readers will arrive at this book with their own perspectives, “The Bonsai Babes: A Love Story” offers the freedom of interpretation, allowing for a deeply personal experience.

Currently funds are being raised to support the production of this book through pledges and pre-orders on Kickstarter through Oct. 18.

To pre-order a copy or to donate, visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/415824209/the-bonsai-babes-a-love-storyan-illustrated-book or www.thebonsaibabes.com.

bonsai babes


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