Review Blog

Dec 18 2016

Sachiko: A Nagasaki bomb survivor's story by Caren Stelson

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Carolrhoda Books, 2016. ISBN 9781467789035
(Aged 12+) Highly recommended. Themes: War; Conflict; Resilience; Peace; Nagasaki. If war was only about winning and losing, we would not know this story. Sachiko's story is the story of loss, of finding a voice in the face of incredible difficulty, of survival despite the overwhelming weight of the impossible cloud of despair and it is a story of resilience. Sachiko is one of the few who survived the Nuclear holocaust that resulted when the nuclear bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Why she survived is a mystery considering how close she was to its epicentre, but the opportunity we have is to hear her words and wisdom, and to grow in our understanding of the personal cost at the individual level when war is waged against nations. Sachiko's tale is a painful yet uplifting story of her personal growth in the face of adversity, of the consolation and wisdom she gained from her family and the words of Gandhi, Dr Martin Luther-King and even of Helen Keller. These influences infiltrated her own response to the tragedies that did not just touch her, but swamped her life in ways that defy our ability to understand. It is our responsibility as we hear her story to consider our own response to world issues and to ponder how we can protect other children from the devastation that conflict brings. Sachiko took a long time to find her voice after the events of 1945 . . . it is a story that is worth hearing. It is also a testament to those that did not survive.
Caren Stelson has written this book as a narrative non-fiction, with Sachiko's story told with historical excerpts and analysis scattered alongside the personal accounts. These non-fiction accounts are well-referenced, and written with simple clarity to make this history accessible for a younger reader, as well as interested adults. Stelson has used transcripts from Sachiko's memories and added her own research to confirm details of the events of this time. Sachiko (through Caren Stelson) is an honourable contributor to the history of World War II and its conclusion, and her accounts are worthy of our respect. Current younger readers and students could read this book alongside the well-known story of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr. This book contains excellent photographs including some from Sachiko's own personal history.
Carolyn Hull

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