The Blossom and the Firefly

Penguin. Feb. 2020. 320p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781524737900.
Gr 6 Up–In 1940s Japan, Hana and the other girls in her group care for young soldiers before they join the war. The daily work is repetitive and numbing, a match to Hana’s feelings after she survives being buried alive during an air attack. She feels like a ghost, until she meets a soldier named Taro. He longs to make his mother, father, and country proud by becoming a kamikaze pilot. However, Taro cannot leave his musical past behind and brings his violin to the military base. One day his playing brings him and Hana together. Can he and Hana enjoy his last few days together? Impeccably researched, Smith’s detailed writing evokes traditional Eastern folklore—much like the Japanese stories she weaves through the novel. Readers will find themselves growing attached to the characters and their developing affection, but the author does not shy away from realistic depiction of a war-torn country. Smith includes a glossary and selected bibliography. Beyond the sense of looming death, there is passion and hope that drives readers further into the story. The ending feels inevitable, like the last notes of a perfect melody.
VERDICT Smith’s fast-paced and compelling historical novel would be a valued addition to any collection.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing