An honest portrayal of young men during war
Hideki is a 13-year-old Okinawan and Ray is a United States Marine. Both are play important roles in the "Love Day" invasion of Okinawa during World War II. In GRENADE, Alan Gratz follows both young men as they work their way across the island during the waning days of the war in the Pacific.
Both Hideki and Ray are blunt as they tell their stories. War is not kind, and there is no effort to filter the effects of it--though Hideki uses the framing technique taught to him by a Japanese military photographer as he looks at various scenes on the island. Both Ray and Hideki reflect on their pasts and their family lives, and their back-stories add to the emotional impact of GRENADE.
GRENADE is brutal and honest and it offers an unflinching view of war. In war, even good people do things that are bad, and the life-or-death situations into which people are thrust bring out the best and worst in the characters of this book.
This is not an easy book to read, but even in its most bloody and challenging moments it reminds readers of the good and the hope that can come in the most difficult of times. Kudos to Gratz for a well-researched novel that will be a terrific addition to a middle school classroom.
My thanks to the publisher and YA Books Central for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.