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Warriors in the Crossfire
     

Warriors in the Crossfire

4.5 2
by Nancy Bo Flood
 

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This gripping historical novel is set on the tiny island of Saipan, which the Japanese had long governed, near the end of World War II. Thirteen-year-old Joseph, the son of a local village chief, and his half-Japanese best friend, Kento, have their loyalties tested when U.S. troops arrive and one of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific war is fought. Caught in the

Overview


This gripping historical novel is set on the tiny island of Saipan, which the Japanese had long governed, near the end of World War II. Thirteen-year-old Joseph, the son of a local village chief, and his half-Japanese best friend, Kento, have their loyalties tested when U.S. troops arrive and one of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific war is fought. Caught in the crossfire between the Americans and Japanese, the boys learn what it really means to be a warrior. The novel is based on historical facts, and an afterword describes the real-life account of what happened on Saipan—the unimaginable horrors of what is now called Suicide Cliff.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
In World War II, the United States fought Japan for control of the Pacific islands, but what about the people who already lived on those islands? This brief and powerful story will help to keep alive the memory of indigenous families caught in the crossfire between the Japanese and American armies. Kento, son of a Japanese official, and Joseph, a villager, are friends on the island of Saipan in the spring of 1944, and it is their friendship and experiences during the war, related in Joseph's first-person point of view, that will bring history home. The final scene, in which thousands of Japanese men, women and children make suicidal leaps off Bonzai Cliff into the sea-and others are butchered before they ever get to the precipice-is so horrifying that this small tale will long linger. The understated design, which includes Japanese characters in the chapter titles and brief, impressionistic poems as chapter lead-ins, makes this volume stand out. An important and little-known perspective on World War II. (historical note, further reading) (Historical fiction. 11-14)
Publishers Weekly
Flood’s (Sand to Stone and Back Again) first novel recounts a story of a forbidden friendship on the Japanese island of Saipan during WWII. Thirteen-year-old cousins Kento and Joseph have been friends forever, but are divided by class when the war intensifies. Kento is half Japanese, while Joseph is one of the natives, who are suspected of being spies for the Americans. Restrictions and curfews multiply for the islanders, but the boys figure out a way to remain friends in secret, as Joseph shares survival skills with Kento, who teaches him kanji in return. “The Japanese may have taken our stores, our schools, even our lands, but they could not take this,” Joseph affirms. When the Americans invade, Joseph’s father tasks him with keeping his mother, sister, and nephew safe, and Joseph wonders if he has risked his family’s safety by trusting Kento. Drawing from true events in Saipan’s tragic history, Flood’s concise and passionate fictionalized account raises myriad complicated questions about friendship, family, and honor. Through Joseph’s eyes, readers experience the pain of war and loss firsthand. Ages 11-14. (Apr.)
From the Publisher

"This brief and powerful story will help to keep alive the memory of indigenous families caught in the crossfire between the Japanese and American armies. . . . This volume stand[s] out. (historical note, further reading)" --Kirkus Reviews

"Joseph is an engaging and three-dimensional character. . . . A useful endnote separates fact from fiction. A unique and important addition to World War II fiction." --School Library Journal

* "Intense and powerful reading that avoids bleakness by celebrating family, culture, and a longing for peace." --Booklist, starred review

"Because this is a topic not often covered in young adult literature, this will be an excellent addition to historical fiction collections." --Library Media Connection

Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
Nancy Bo Flood's debut novel is set on the island of Saipan in the Northern Marianas. It is a place that is little known in the mainland United States but nonetheless played a significant role in the history of World War II. The story of that larger battle plays out in the small, intimate scenes of childhood and growing up that make up this heartfelt book. The novel's trajectory moves forward through the first person voice of young Joseph, son of a Saipan chief of Carolinian heritage, as he lives his life in the shadow of the Japanese occupation. We meet him exchanging hand signals on the beach with his cousin Kento. But Kento is part Japanese, a tension that tugs and pulls throughout the novel at the actions of the protagonist, leading first to suspicion, and in the end to the affirmation of family. The pacing feels oddly gentle, even with the chaos of war looming ahead. An interesting and graceful sleight of hand, this serves to heighten the drama when the family goes into hiding and Joseph must do his part to keep them all alive. The acknowledgments point to personal, shared narratives from people in the islands serving as the foundation of the story. Each chapter begins with a brief poetic epigraph. In a few places the dialogue falls short of the polish we come to expect from the rest, as does the device of following foreign expressions with their English translations within comma phrases. Still, in the realm of outsider cultural narratives, Warriors in the Crossfire is a thoughtfully crafted work that will draw young readers into an important historical time and place. Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami
School Library Journal
Gr 5–9—This taut, poetic story of Saipan, set before and during the U.S. invasion of the island in spring 1944, is narrated by the 13-year-old son of a local village chief. To the Japanese, who have occupied the island since 1922, controlling schools and stores, restricting movement, and enforcing curfews with violence, Joseph's people are gai-jin ("barbaric outsiders"). Still, he and Kento, son of Joseph's aunt and a Japanese administrator, have grown up as friends. Though Kento wants to be a samurai, he also longs to be an island warrior like Joseph, able to live off the land and protect his mother and sister. As war comes closer, the two trade lessons in island survival for lessons in Japanese characters. But their loyalties are tested. Before he leaves with the other village men to clear airfields, Joseph's father shows him the secret cave where his people have waited out generations of invasions—and when U.S. troops arrive, Joseph must lead his family there to survive the brutal crossfire. Short, well-paced chapters reveal the rich cultural life of the villagers and lead to a dramatic end that includes the shocking suicide march of Japanese citizens off the island cliffs. Joseph is an engaging and three-dimensional character. Compelling relationships form the heart of the story and aid his growth as he learns what it really means to be a warrior. A useful endnote separates fact from fiction. A unique and important addition to World War II fiction.—Riva Pollard, Prospect Sierra Middle School, El Cerrito, CA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781620910269
Publisher:
Highlights Press
Publication date:
04/01/2013
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
144
Sales rank:
1,347,064
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
HL560L (what's this?)
Age Range:
11 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Nancy Bo Flood is a counselor, teacher, and parent. She has conducted workshops on child abuse, learning disabilities, play therapy, and creative writing. Ms. Flood has lived in Malawi, Hawaii,

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Warriors in the Crossfire 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Kate_Narita More than 1 year ago
If you're studying WWII, this book is a must read. Not only does author Nancy Bo Flood bring young readers to an unknown setting, the island of Saipan, she challenges each reader to think about what it truly means to be a warrior.
WW2Historian More than 1 year ago
The author has done an excellent job of telling the story of the island people caught in the middle between the Japanese who had vowed to fight to the death and the advancing Allied forces. Well Done!