FICTION

Grenade

288p. Scholastic. Oct. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338245691.
COPY ISBN
Gr 5 Up—In 1945, as the U.S. army neared mainland Japan, the Imperial Japanese Army evacuated its elite troops from Okinawa and left behind a force meant to slow down the Americans in the bloodiest way possible. They recruited the native Okinawans into this army, including teens like Hideki, one of the two narrators of this gripping World War II novel. As Hideki takes his two grenades (one to kill U.S. soldiers and one to kill himself), he is fated to come across the other narrator, a young American soldier, Ray. Based on research and firsthand accounts the author heard while in Okinawa, history comes violently to life in this character-driven, fictionalized account. The battle details are accurate and the characters and the growing sense of the battle's futility are well drawn and poignant. There is some offensive contemporaneous language referring to Japanese people used within the narrative, which is explained in a note at the beginning and in greater detail in the detailed historical note at the end. While this is a chilling, realistic depiction of war, the violence is not glorified or graphically described.
VERDICT An excellent World War II novel, best suited for mature readers who can handle the sensitive content and brutal realities of wartime.

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