The story is told simply and astutely by Newbery Medal Winner, Cynthia Kadohata. A gripping tale portrayed through the eyes of a 12 year old girl called Hanoka. It’s a story about hard core resilience in the face of extreme change.
The story revolves around the protagonist Hanoka, who has grown up in America all her life. Her family is forced to renounce their American citizenship after being held in a camp for years post World War II. The family then moves back to their traditional home which lies on the outskirts of Hiroshima. The narrative tells us about Hanako’s journey and her emotional conflicts about having to go back to a place that she belongs to but doesn’t know. It’s a gripping story that tells us about the devastating effects of war, about wounded soldiers and about bare survival. It’s a real, honest story with raw emotional conflicts as the protagonist faces the stark reality of war. Gradually, the author shows us the change that takes places within Hanoka as she faces hard facts about the nature of humanity and the vast disparities in cultures that she tries to grasp. The story provides a hard visual as it talks about children who are orphaned and the misery of countless families. It takes on a foreboding tone, as it tells us how the black market slowly creeps into misery and how poverty settles on them like a wet blanket.
It’s a tale that depicts the journey of the Hanoka’s emotional journey from conflict, to resilience to a certain awakening and acceptance of her circumstances. It’s beautiful in a subtle way. She introduces Japanese culture to her readers through the little things, like Kintsukuroi and Mohi cakes and it is here we learn that there is joy in little things.
A good read for children who like historical fiction and war time stories!
3 Things you will remember from this book:
The kind of devastation that can be wrecked by a war.
Adapting to change in environment, circumstances and people.
To always prioritize family first.
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