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The Bomb
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The Bomb

4.0 19
by Theodore Taylor

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A teenager takes the safety of a whole island into his own hands, trying to stop tests of the atomic bomb.


A teenager takes the safety of a whole island into his own hands, trying to stop tests of the atomic bomb.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
[set star] "Delivers readers into the middle of a harrowing, if neglected, piece of history."—Kirkus Reviews (starred)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
WWII changes traditional ways of life in the Bikini Atoll forever in what PW's starred review called "a haunting, soundly researched work." Ages 12-up. (Aug.)
The ALAN Review - Donald R. Gallo
Sorry Rinamu and his family are happy to be rid of the Japanese soldiers who had occupied their small Pacific island in the early 1940s. But in 1946 they learn that their home on beautiful Bikini Atoll will become the testing ground for American atomic bombs. They must leave their peaceful ancestral land, though authorities have promised they will be able to return in two years. When sixteen-year-old Sorry learns about the potential effects of radiation, he feels he must do something to stop the planned testing. Theodore Taylor, who was an officer on one of the U.S. ships that prepared Bikini Atoll for the atomic explosions, has affectionately recreated the tranquility and beauty of that remote place along with the feelings of loss and betrayal that the natives faced. In light of recent French nuclear testing and the protests thereof, this story is particularly poignant.
Children's Literature - Jyotsna Sreenivasan
This unusual novel tells the story of the 1946 atomic bomb tests on the island of Bikini through the eyes of a teenage boy. Sorry Rinamu and his fellow islanders feel grateful to the American soldiers for defeating the Japanese, who had been mistreating them. Two years later, when the islanders learn that the Americans want to test their horrific new bomb in Bikini atoll, the islanders do not feel they can refuse to relocate. But Sorry's uncle Abram devises a protest plan: he will paint a canoe red and sail it into Bikini atoll right before the bomb is to drop. He hopes the airplanes will see the canoe and stop the bombing. When Abram dies suddenly, Sorry, schoolteacher Tara Malolo, and Sorry's grandfather Jonjen carry out the plan themselves-with the result that they are killed instantly when the bomb hits. The book is interspersed with an atomic bomb timeline and a factual epilogue that details the hardships the islanders faced after the bomb. Author Taylor, who was a deck officer during the Bikini testing, has written a fascinating novel that brings home the absurdity and tragedy of the atomic bomb tests.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-Sorry Rinamu is a teenager who lives on Bikini Atoll. Shortly after the Americans liberate his island in 1944, the Americans decide to use it as a site for atomic testing. With the promise that people could return to their island in two years-and contrary to the objections of Sorry's Uncle Abram, who argues that it would never again be safe to inhabit-the islanders agree to the plan. When Abram dies suddenly, Sorry vows to fulfill his uncle's intention to stop the tests and is joined by several others. But a serious misjudgment leads the young man and his companions to be blown up during the test. Taylor takes readers on an absorbing excursion, offering vivid descriptions, rich details of Micronesian culture, and a poignant contrast between the peaceful tranquility of the Marshall Islands and the industrialized West. The plot moves briskly with the tension of heroic confrontation. Readers will be challenged with the issues of war, the ethics of nuclear weapons, and the destruction of ancient cultures.-Tim Rausch, Crescent View Middle School, Sandy, UT

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.50(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.56(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Just before the roosters crowed one day in late March 1944, Sorry Rinamu was awakened by great, angry roars from the sky, louder than rolling thunderclaps Close as the palm-tree tops. Fast moving.

There'd been no warning that dawn. Thick silence; then the sudden, deep growls from above.

Terrified, he jumped off his sleeping mat, and ran outside the family dwelling, which faced the quiet lagoon. He was wearing homemade shorts of sunbleached rice-bag material, his usual clothing day or night.

His mother and younger sister scrambled out behind him like frightened geese, almost falling over each other. Teacher Tara Malolo, who was living with them that week, came out, too. His grandfather and grandmother followed. There were high-pitched wails and the screams of ajiri, small children, from other village dwellings that faced the beach. Everyone had been deeply asleep, accustomed to the lullaby of the surf, the friendly rustle of the palm trees.

In the shallow gray light Sorry could see eight blue aircraft circling far out over the lagoon, single file, like a flight of pelicans. Then they turned back toward the thatch-walled, thatch-roofed houses, flying so low that Sorry could see the outlines of bobbing heads in the open cockpits. The roars grew. again. For a moment as the planes paralleled the beach, then cut sharply over the north end of the island, he thought they'd unload their bombs. Blow up the houses, kill everyone.

His sister, Lokileni, thought so, too. She stood there in a faded cotton nightshirt, screaming. Slender body shaking. Eyes tightly closed to ward off death.

His jinen, his mother,Ruta Rinamu, went to her knees in the sand, praying, eyes closed, the tips of her fingers touching her chin.

Sorry held his breath. His brown eyes were wide with fear. Please do not kill us!

His jimman, his grandfather, Jonjen, stared at the planes as if his look could drive away the evil vultures. He did not seem afraid.

His jibun, his grandmother, Yolo, covered her sunken eyes. She feared ghosts and seldom spoke. She was with the spirits of the wind, the tides, the rains, the fishes. Her skin was like crinkly brown paper stretched over her bones.

Frowning widely, Tara Malolo stared silently at the aircraft.

Others in the village had come out of their houses and were standing or kneeling on the beach in little groups. Terrified. Frozen. Screaming. Praying.

The planes continued their second run, coming even lower.

The first one fired a machine-gun burst at the Japanese weather station, north of the houses. The second did the same.

As they flew over again, the palm and pandanus trees actually quivered. Sorry could feel the heat of engine exhausts and see die flames spitting from them. Explosions always came with the white men.

The free-running Pigs squealed and ran in circles. Chickens screeched, frightened silly, too, by the noise. The island's six dogs ran under the small cookhouses to hide.

Sorry covered his ears but kept his eyes open.

Grandfather Jonjen finally identified the divebombers and whom they belonged to. He shouted happily, "Amiricaans, Amiricaans!..." The planes bad white stars on their sides, not the red markings of Japan.

Tara jumped up and down, clapping her hands.

As the throbbing engine noises began to fade, the shout of "Amiricaans" echoed joyously along the beach. There was laughter and hugging, much excitement. Even the bewildered ajiri were now smiling, though they didn't know why.

Several of the American navy Pilots had waved from their cockpits. One had held up his fingers in a V, the victory sign, new to the islanders.

Americans! White men from the east. Military men.

Perhaps that meant that Bikini, northernmost atoll of the Ralik chain, twenty-two hundred miles southwest of Hawaii, would soon be free of Japanese occupation.

Twenty-six islands and islets, the larger ones palmand pandanus-tree-covered, formed the atoll, an oval lagoon in the ocean rimmed with coral reefs. Bikini, largest and most beautiful of the twenty-six, was four miles long and less than a half mile wide. All the Rinamus had been born on the island. Only Sorry's late father, Badina Rinamu, and Grandfather Jonjen had ventured beyond the lagoon. Sorry hoped to do that someday, sail to the aili&3241;kan, the outside world.

In five days, he would turn fourteen and officially become a man in island tradition with a family celebration. He was already the main provider of food.

He would also become the head of the family replacing Grandfather Jonjen, who had been acting headsince Badina Rinamu died four years ago. Sorry would now be the family alab, representing the Rinamus on the village council, with Jonjen as his legal adviser.

There could not have been a better early birthday gift than those roaring planes and waving Pilots, that gunfire.

Her fright ebbing away, Lokileni asked, "Will we be free?"

The Japanese soldiers sometimes demanded the bodies of young girls. Lokileni was only eleven, but she was in danger when the soldiers had too much beer or palm wine. So there was good reason for her to fear them, good reason for Sorry to protect her.

"I don't know," he answered, mind whirling. "Let's hope so."

As the engine clatter vanished entirely, the planes becoming dots in the western sky, Sorry looked up the beach toward the gray wooden weather station with its big radio antennae on the roof, target of the machine-gun burst.

The Japanese soldiers were standing outside watching aircraft disappear. One man had been killedby the second plane. The others were jabbering excitedly. Sorry could hear them faintly.

Everyone in the village hated them. They never smiled. They were never polite. The islanders called the squat wooden building mwen ekamijak, "house of fear."

Meet the Author

THEODORE TAYLOR (1921-2006), an award-winning author of many books for young people, was particularly known for fast-paced, exciting adventure novels. His books include the bestseller The Cay, Timothy of the Cay, The Bomb, Air Raid—Pearl Harbor!, Ice Drift, The Maldonado Miracle, and The Weirdo, an Edgar Award winner for Best Young Adult Mystery.

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The Bomb 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A howling broke through the night.a dark grey shape padded into the clans main hollow.thunder boomed as rain poured down the the things rough fur coat.its glowing red eyes scanned the hollow.then about seven other things came into the hollow.we must kill off all these cats to survive.the other grey furred animals nodded.the leader howled and the others did to.just then a animal in the pack whimpered in pain.blood gashed from its wound and it fell to the ground.what was that the leadrr snarled.it was me said the cat whos pelt was as dark as the night so all you vould see was its glowing yellow eyes.its eyes narrowed.you mess with my clan and your lives are going to get a whole lot worse.before the cat could strike the leader sent a blow to her chest and scored its claws down her stomach.the leadrrs eyes widened.forgive me nightpaw for you have to figure out the great destiny out on your own,and your sister night-the leader slashed the leaders throat but she made one last entence:you and your sister nightjay will have to come together from each of your clans bring the prophecy thats more powerful than any other prophecies and that you to will never be the same again.(next chapter at jam result two)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Bomb by Theodore Taylor is an ehilarating story about a boy's dream to save his is island. Sixteen year old Sorry Rinamu has never left his island of Bikini. The Japanese had controlled the atoll he lived on until the end of World War II. The people of Bikini thought that the Americans were going to be nice, but they thought wrong. The American government wanted to use Bikini as a test site for an atom bomb. Tara Malolo, a teacher of Sorry's, has an idea that might save the island. I would recommend this book for someone whol likes stories about World War II and the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Colin8 More than 1 year ago
The Bomb takes place in a small atoll called Bikini Atoll. Sorry and his family live there with other families during the time of WW2. They were under the control by the Japanese. When the American come, and kill the soldiers everything looks better for Sorry and his family. Until the Americans want to use it as a Bombing site. Sorry has to get the courage and somehow stop them. Sorry doesn't believe the Americans that it will be the same when they come back. I think that this was a very hard book to follow. It named too many people at once and too many places. I am writing this book to inform people what a teenager thought of the book. When I read this book I was grading how easy it was to follow it and how right the facts. The book to me was confusing. The beginning of the book start off by talking about several different people and later they weren't even important. I didn't like how randomly the uncle died. Theodore Taylor should have told what happen to him. One thing I like was that most of Theodore Taylor's facts were right. I thought the book was very confusing and it was not meant for younger readers. The book though had all its facts right. I would recommend for stronger readers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This tragic tale of how a small island is used to experiment an atom bomb saddens you by every page u turn. A teenage boy Sorry and his small islanders that was taken by the Japanese was later relieved by Americans, thinking they we be able to return to their normal way of life that the enjoy.But the americans had a different idea. Read this book and find out what happens that will change the islandersforever.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Find out about a boy that lives on an island that gets taken over by Japanese soldiers. Sorry then hears about an atomic bomb that can destroy a whole city in the historical fiction book The Bomb by Theodore Taylor. On a bad stormy day the Japanese soldiers took over Sorry¿s island. When the Japanese left everyone was relieved. But one day a visitor came. It was Sorry¿s uncle. He said that he was in the army. After that, a bird came to Sorry¿s island and his religion believed that carried bad massages to the island. After that they heard about an atomic bomb that was dropped in Japan. They were happy but also sad for the loss of a lot of innocent people. After the war was over the Americans came to Sorry¿s island and wanted to test the atomic bomb in their island, a lot of people were against the Americans. But unfortunately Sorry¿s uncle died. But as Sorry thought about it he wanted to continue with his uncle¿s plans. Read the book and find out what Sorry¿s plan was and you might like the book like I did. I liked the book because in a certain part of the book it really describes the atomic bomb. It also gives you of the huge power it has and how it can affect Mother Nature, the animals and also the people. It talks about radiation and what it does when it touches things and it also tells you what problems it can cause and how fast the radiation can travel. I also like Sorry because he has a lot of adventures and he is very courageous that¿s why he is my favorite character.
Guest More than 1 year ago
it was ok not the best ive read better but it does have well developed charecters and it was good in descriptiveness not to much or little e-mail me if u wanna talk
Guest More than 1 year ago
very good book. sorry the main character is determined to stay on his homeland and the americans are trying to test the atomic bomb. to fight the germans.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked the book a lot. I like it when Sorry is okay with becoming a man at such an early age(14). It was sad how all the people lost there island. My favorite part was when sorry set out to save his island. It was a very brave thing of him to. I really didn't like the way the book ended, but i guess it is a ending. Overall the book to me was very good in detail an description. I like the way that the author describes the island. I hope everybody else enjoys the book as much as me or better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It showed me how people loved their homeland so much that they risked death to save it from the bomb.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was interesting. I never knew the hardships the people had to go threw until i read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Interested in learning more about the atomic bomb and not having to listen to teachers? Read this book. You should have some tissues handy when reading this book. It isn't a horror one it was very touching to our hearts. So when you get the chance to read it don't give that chance up!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that The Bomb is a great book for ages 9-14. It is filled with many things that kids can learn. It's just really great!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great book recomend it from 10-100000000 years old.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Very accurate on what WW2 was really like.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is very well written. It tells the very tragic story about a boy named Sorry Rinamu who lives on a very primitive island called Bikini during World War II. The island is then wanted by the U.S.A., who wants to use it for atomic testing. Sorry and all of the people on the island have to move to another island. The story talks about how they struggle to stop the atomic testing. I would recommend this book to people who would like a thrilling story revolving around World War II. It is the bomb!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much. I usually don't enjoy historical fiction as much as fantasy, but I really liked this book a lot. I learned a lot about the atomic bomb and where it was tested, but at the same time I enjoyed the story about the people that were caught up in the war. It was exciting to see if Sorry could stop the atomic bomb or not. It was amazing to see how the native people on the island reacted to the outside world. I especially liked all the characters and how they were different from each othrer. The story was interesting and I learned a lot. This book is a great book for people looking for a great story and some interesting facts.
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