Cynthia Kadohata


My parents were both born in California and had difficult, impoverished childhoods, and, later, difficult yet rewarding lives. I was born in Chicago in 1956, when my mother was newly 21 and my late father was 30. I have an older sister and a younger brother, born in Arkansas. I felt quite beloved as I grew up. There was a woman I interviewed for A Place to Belong. She spoke of being deported to Japan with her family after the war. She didn’t have enough food, but she didn’t think about that, because, she says, “I was surrounded by love.” I felt very safe as a young child because of the love of my parents and the presence of my siblings. 

I have attended quite a few schools and dropped out of a few as well. There is no single path forward. One of you might be a straight-A kid, and another might be a kid who drops out of high school as I did. And both of you might later attend an Ivy League graduate school, as I did. It was not easy to drop out—of Hollywood High School—but I don’t regret it and learned many things, the hard way for sure. 

I live in Southern California with my teenage son and longtime boyfriend.

Fast Facts

  • Born in Chicago in 1956
  • Lived in Chicago, Georgia, Arkansas, and California as a child. As a grownup, lived in Boston and Southern California, attended school in Pittsburgh and Manhattan.
  • First published in The New Yorker
  • Published ten books for children and three for adults
  • Winner of the 2005 Newbery Medal for Kira-Kira and the 2013 National Book Award for The Thing About Luck
  • Hobbies are adopting and loving Dobermans, and currently team manager for my son’s youth hockey team
  • Lived in Southern California since 1990
Cynthia Kadohata
Cynthia Kadohata

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