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|Under the broken sky|
Author: Nagai, Mariko
When Soviet troops invade Japanese-occupied Manchuria during the last days of World War II, twelve-year-old Natsu Kimura must care for her younger sister as they struggle to survive and return to Japan.
Kirkus Reviews (-) (08/15/19)
School Library Journal (09/01/19)
Booklist (+) (09/01/19)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 09/01/2019 Gr 5–7—A moving story of one Japanese family's survival in occupied Manchuria during World War II. The small farm where 12-year-old Natsu lives with her father and her sister, Asa, is all she has ever known. But when her father is forced to join the Japanese army, everything begins to change. He makes Natsu promise three things: keep his backpack, stay together, and if anything happens, run! Before long, the Soviet army forces the women and children to flee the settlement. Walking for weeks, they finally arrive at the Chinese city of Harbin. They are crammed together in an old school building, where hunger, fear, and death prevail. When Natsu falls ill, she decides to save Asa by selling her to a Russian family. Incredibly, she regains her health and learns of a boat returning refugees to Japan. Yet Natsu holds fast to her promise: she will not leave without her sister. Nagai writes in verse with both a detached hesitancy, as if looking at the story from a distance, and a deep understanding of the sisters' pain through rich imagery that poetry so often allows. It is a hard history to swallow, but it is made palatable through the characters' tenacity and belief in an outcome greater than their own. VERDICT Echoing the hardships and redemption of many novels about World War II, this well-timed story about a lesser-known group of refugees adds an important chapter to the narrative of human oppression and survival.—Rebecca Redinger, Lincoln Park Branch, Chicago Public Library - Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 09/01/2019 *Starred Review* Natsu’s twelfth birthday finds her in Manchuria with her small family, Japanese farmers with an unyielding belief in their Emperor’s preeminence. When her father is called up to WWII’s Manchurian front, Natsu is left to care for her little sister Asa—with the help of their neighboring “Auntie.” After the Soviet army invades and Japan surrenders, Natsu joins Auntie and Asa on a journey through hunger, sickness, and violence as they search for safety among the changing sociopolitical landscape of the place they once called home. Pushcart Prize–winning poet and prosaist Nagai tells a story of courage and survival amid the unraveling of WWII. If there were only one reason to read this book, let it be for Natsu: the child forced by circumstance to grow up too soon is an omnipresent figure both throughout history and in present-day refugee communities, where families are broken and it is safer to abandon home than it is to stay. Another reason would be the exquisite poetry, accessible to middle-graders but nonetheless stunning in its imagery, or the captivating character development of not just Natsu but Nagai’s tertiary characters as well, or the sharp historical lens through which readers receive Natsu’s story. Published for middle-grade readers but necessary for all of humankind, Under the Broken Sky is a breathtaking work of literature. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.