The Blossom and the Firefly

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Modern Age

The Blossom and the Firefly
Author: Smith, Sherri L.
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Time Period: Modern Age
Time Frame: 1945
Geographic Area: Asia
Country: Japan
Topics: WWII
Genre: Fiction
Reading Age: Young Adult, Adult
Format: Chapter Book
Published: 2020

Content Warning

World History > Modern Age > WWII

From the award-winning author of Flygirl comes this powerful WWII romance between two Japanese teens caught in the cogs of an unwinnable war, perfect for fans of Salt to the Sea, Lovely War, and Code Name Verity.

Japan 1945. Taro is a talented violinist and a kamikaze pilot in the days before his first and only mission. He believes he is ready to die for his country... until he meets Hana. Hana hasn't been the same since the day she was buried alive in a collapsed trench during a bomb raid. She wonders if it would have been better to have died that day... until she meets Taro.

A song will bring them together. The war will tear them apart. Is it possible to live an entire lifetime in eight short days?

Sherri L. Smith has been called "an author with astonishing range" and "a stellar storyteller" by E. Lockhart, the New York Times-bestselling author of We Were Liars, and "a truly talented writer" by Jacqueline Woodson, the National Book Award-winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming. Here, with achingly beautiful prose, Smith weaves a tale of love in the face of death, of hope in the face of tragedy, set against a backdrop of the waning days of the Pacific War.

Emily's Review

Beautiful, tragic, and atmospheric. I really enjoyed this story, though I disagree with its comparison to Lovely War. This is less a romance than a view of Japan through the eyes of two teens who lived through the war.

Hana is a Nadisheko, young girls who worked as maids at the air base where the tokko or kamikaze pilots flew out for their missions. She detaches herself as best she can, knowing that these boys are going to their deaths.

Taro is a violinist, but with his country at war, he chooses to follow in his father's footsteps and goes into the military to become a pilot.

The story hops between their perspectives, giving a good view of what it was like for young Japanese people during the war.

The heart of this story is the war and what it did to these teens. How it affected the entire nation and how they learned to heal. It is a story that has stuck with me for a long time after reading it.

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