The Last Cherry Blossom
by Kathleen Burkinshaw (Author)

Booktalk: Yuriko is happy growing up in Hiroshima when it’s just her and Papa. But her aunt Kimiko and her cousin Genji are living with them now, and the family is only getting bigger with talk of a double marriage! And while things are changing at home, the world beyond their doors is even more unpredictable. World War II is coming to an end, and Japan’s fate is not entirely clear, with any battle losses being hidden from its people. Yuriko is used to the sirens and air raid drills, but things start to feel more real when the neighbors who have left to fight stop coming home. When the atomic bomb hits Hiroshima, it’s through Yuriko’s twelve-year-old eyes that we witness the devastation and horror.

Snippet: I looked in the direction of my house. The outside frame was the only thing left standing. Every room seemed to have crumbled to the floor below. I recognized the two cement pilars where the iron gates had been, but the cement walls were reduced to ashes. My home was gone, as were all the other houses on the street, as far as I could see.

I would have time to grieve later. Now I needed to rescue my best friend.

“Machiko, I am out. Call to me. Tell me where you are!” I screamed. My entire body shook as if it were twenty degrees outside and I was without a winter coat. It was then that I realized that I was not the only one screaming. I heard people shouting at piles of rubble all the way down our street.

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