A Japanese teenager, Mizuki, is worried about her grandfather who is clearly desperately upset about something. He says that he has never got over something that happened in his past and gently Mizuki persuades him to tell her what it is. We are taken to 1945, Hiroshima, and Mizuki's grandfather as a teenage boy chatting at home with his friend Hiro. Moments later the horrific nuclear bomb is dropped on Hiroshima.
What follows is a searing account of the blinding flash, the harrowing search for family and the devastation both human and physical. There is also the very moving and human story as the two teenage boys with great bravery search for and find Keiko, Hiro's five-year-old sister. But then Keiko is lost when Mizuki's grandfather has no option but to leave her in a safe place while he goes for help…
Despite a desperate search in the aftermath of the bomb, where he leaves origami folded paper cranes for Keiko with his address on everywhere a survivor could be, he cannot find her…
A powerful novel that, despite its harrowing subject matter, has hope at its heart.
This is such an incredibly moving, powerful and touching story, that I could not put it down and read it in one sitting.
Told in two timelines, from the point of view of Mizuki, who is concerned about her grandfather Ichiro’s wellbeing, as well as from the point of view of Ichiro himself, who lived through the bombing of Hiroshima. The Last Paper Crane takes the reader on an intense journey of how the scars, grief and never-ending guilt of those who survived this act of war stayed with them for a lifetime.
The use of verse adds to the beautiful way that this story is told. The situation after the atomic bomb is dropped is devastating, however this is ultimately a touching story of how one broken promise has shaped Ichiro’s entire life, and Keiko’s life too. In the end, it is truly a story of hope.
With the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima in August, this is a timely novel for all secondary students to reflect and learn from the past.
Reviewed by Sam