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For an older Japanese woman living in modern day Florida, life progresses as normal. Amidst her regular chores and duties, Sachi takes pleasure in simple things, such as lounging on her daughter’s veranda or watching her grandsons romp around the yard. But, for one who has lived in extraordinary times, small details and similarities can bring on a flood of memories, taking her back through time to reflect on her earlier life as a young girl in Japan.

Watching her grandsons, she wonders if they will remember her, as she remembers her old O-baa-chama (grandmother), who was the daughter of a samurai and held a dignified presence in their home. As the boys swing on the aging swing set, she recalls how, as a little girl, she once attempted to dislodge an out-of-reach persimmon by swinging up to it in the play area of their Tokyo home. February brings bittersweet memories of their household maid, who passed on to Sachi a passion for poetry, writing, and curiosity in all things at an early age.

As the memories progress, we see signs of war creeping in at the sides. The servants are sent away, small luxuries removed and frowned upon, and education becomes difficult to obtain as children are sent to work in factories for the good of the country. When bombs begin to fall, Sachi’s family struggles to survive and maintain their dignity, each doing their part, even as they are split up to face the most horrific of conditions.

This stunning autobiography takes a close and personal look at middle-class life in Japan before and during World War II. With simple, yet jarring details and a rich flair for story telling, the author takes us back to a tumultuous time, and lays out her memories honestly and without blame. My only complaint about this book is that it is far too short, and I ached to know more about the rest of the author’s life after the events of the final anecdote.


I feel that this book might serve as an excellent teaching tool for educators who are presenting this time period to their younger students.
#1 - April 29, 2009, 09:17 PM


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