The Last Cherry Blossom

The Last Cherry Blossom
Age Range
Release Date
August 02, 2016
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Yuriko is happy growing up in Hiroshima when it's 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 from its people. Yuriko is used to the sirens and air raid drills, but things start to feel more real when the neighbors who have left to fight stop coming home. When the atomic 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 first-hand 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 readers that the "enemy" in any war is often not so different from ourselves.

Editor review

1 review
Unusual view of WWII
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
For Yuriko (sometimes called Joya by her father), life in Hiroshima is fairly pleasant, even with the advent of WWII. When her aunt Kimiko and her obnoxious son Genji move in with her and the privations of war intensify, things are less pleasant. Still, both Kimiko and her father are planning to remarry, and there are plans to be made for the celebration, and family secrets are revealed. When the atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima, these secrets are of little consequence in the wake of the devastation to Yuriko's family and home. This is loosely based on the author's mother's experience surviving the bombing, and an extensive glossary is at the back.
Strengths: I am always a fan of books that tell me more about what daily life in a particular place at a particular time was like, and this does a good job, with much of the book covering the time period before the bombing. I can't think of another book that covers this topic. The family secret adds another layer of interest to this. Clearly well researched, this also has a strong emotional impact due to the personal touch of the author's mother's experiences.
Good Points
There is a wealth of tiny details about every day life in Japan during WWII in this book. I was especially fascinated by the descriptions of sewing and food during this time. I've never read this sort of information, so it added a lot to my knowledge base about the state of the world during this historic conflict.

This is a much needed book about not only what when on in Japan during the war, but also after the bombing of Hiroshima. Definitely a must purchase for schools whose curriculum covers WWII, and just generally interesting.
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