Posted in Book, Book Review, Middle Readers, Reading

THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM by Kathleen Burkinshaw

9781634506939

This middle school historical novel is set during a short span at the end of World War II.  The story is generally based upon the author’s mother’s firsthand experiences of World War II in Japan and surviving the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.  The story is told from the point of a twelve year old, which was the age of Mrs. Burkinshaw’s mother on August 6, 1945, when the atomic bomb exploded on Hiroshima.

Young Yuriko Ishikawa was most content with life in Hiroshima with Papa.  Then Aunt Kimiko and little cousin Genji came to live with them.  To further complicate the peaceful life of Yuriko, the aunt and her Papa have a double wedding, bringing two more adults into the house.  Noise and chaos became more the norm for Yuriko which made her far less comfortable in her own home.

The ways of war were also significantly spread into all areas of Yuriko’s life.  The sirens of air-raids, preparation through drills, and the sound of American B-29s flying overhead were a continual kind of noise pollution to her.  The Japanese people were kept in the dark about how their country stood in the war, especially when it came to losses versus victories.  Despite the necessity of participating in the war effort, Yuriko and her family did their best to keep some semblance of normal in their lives, such as celebrating Oshagatsu (New Year’s) and the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Yuriko is shattered when a family secret is revealed.  As if dealing with all of that was not enough, the atomic bomb on Hiroshima devastates the family and the community.  Nothing could have prepared them for the total destruction that surrounds them.

Hope does sidle alongside tragedy in this well-written novel.  Kathleen Burkinshaw writes with reverence a fictional tale of her mother’s story…the experiences of growing up in Hiroshima and surviving August 6, 1945.   She was twelve years old on that day.

At each chapter, there are actual newspaper headlines, propaganda posters, and epigraphs of radio-show transcripts making the story all the more authentic.  At the end, you will find a bibliography, a glossary, and statistics about Hiroshima.  It dovetails exceptionally well with a middle grade(junior high) unit on Japan during World War II.

Age Range:  11 – 13 Years

Author

Kathleen Burkinshaw has been sharing her mother’s story to middle school history and language arts classes for the past six years.  She has been carrying her mother’s story her entire life and feels very honored to share it with the world.  She and her family visited Hiroshima in recent years and shares that experience in her presentations to classes.  Another part of the presentation includes the effects of nuclear bombs today compared to the atomic bomb in 1945. You can find information regarding all of this on the webpage for this fine debut novel…http://kathleenburkinshaw.com/

She lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband.  Her daughter is away at college.  Kathleen worked in HealthCare Management for more than ten years, but because of the onset of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), she had to let that career go.  Writing gives her an outlet for her daily struggle with chronic pain as well as for her love of research and writing.   Her blog is @ Creating Through the Pain

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Book Information

ISBN-13: 9781634506939
Publisher:  Sky Pony Press
Publication date: 08/02/2016
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
Publication date: 08/02/2016