Thanks to the #kidlitexchange network for the free review copy of his book – all opinions are my own.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Yuriko was happy growing up in Hiroshima when it was just her and Papa. But her aunt Kimiko and her cousin Genji are living with them now, and the family is only getting bigger with talk of a double marriage! And while things are changing at home, the world beyond their doors is even more unpredictable. World War II is coming to an end, and Japan’s fate is not entirely clear, with any battle losses being hidden fom its people. Yuriko is used to the sirens and the air-raid drills, but things start to feel more real when the neighbors who have left to fight stop coming home. When the bomb hits Hiroshima, it’s through Yuriko’s twelve-year-old eyes that we witness the devastation and horror.
This is a story that offers young readers insight into how children lived during the war, while also introducing them to Japanese culture. Based loosely on author Kathleen Burkinshaw’s mother’s firsthand experience surviving the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, The Last Cherry Blossom hopes to warn readers of the immense damage nuclear war can bring, while reminding them that the “enemy” in any war is often not so different from ourselves.
I’ve always been a huge fan of historical fiction set during WWII, so I was really looking forward to this story. It’s a unique perspective, and it really added a new dimension to the genre for me. Hearing the story of the war and the atomic bomb as it fell upon Hiroshima through the eyes of an innocent 12-year-old was very intense. And knowing it’s based upon the experiences of the author’s grandmother makes it that much more poignant.
As an adult with prior knowledge of what happened at that point in history, I was able to use that to my advantage and piece together certain aspects of the story that weren’t explicitly stated. Not having that previous knowledge will not, in my opinion, negatively affect a young reader’s experience with this story. I do think, however, that an open door to ask questions and talk about what happened with an adult will greatly benefit and enhance the reading experience for a youngster.
This is definitely a book to add to your shelves or to-read list if you haven’t already. I’d recommend it for both adults and young readers alike.
Highly recommend. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Books stats: Hardcover, 240 pages, Sky Pony Press, August 2, 2016