Twelve-year-old Nozomi lives in the Japanese city of Hiroshima. She wasn't even born when the bombing of Hiroshima took place. Every year Nozomi joins her family at the lantern-floating ceremony to honor those lost in the bombing. People write the names of their deceased loved ones along with messages of peace, on paper lanterns and set them afloat on the river. This year Nozomi realizes that her mother always releases one lantern with no name. She begins to ask questions, and when complicated stories of loss and loneliness unfold, Nozomi and her friends come up with a creative way to share their loved ones' experiences. By opening people's eyes to the struggles they all keep hidden, the project teaches the entire community new ways to show compassion.
Soul Lanterns is an honest exploration of what happened on August 6, 1945, and offers readers a glimpse not only into the rich cultural history of Japan but also into the intimate lives of those who recognize--better than most--the urgent need for peace.
I would love to see more books by #ownvoices authors translated for the US middle grade market, like this one and Kashiwaba Temple Alley Summer. There could have been a little more information, for US readers, about how Japan reacted to the bombings with calls for peace. The Japanese reaction to the events of World War II is something I didn't really learn about until after college.
This is a fantastic addition to books about the aftermath of WWII in Japan, such as Dicicco and Sasaki's The Complete Story of Sadako Sasaki , Yep's Hiroshima, Stelson,'s Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story, Burkinshaw's The Last Cherry Blossom, Smith's The Blossom and the Firefly , Napoli's In a Flash and Kadohata's A Place to Belong.