Review of Peace Is a Chain Reaction: How World War II Japanese Balloon Bombs Brought People of Two Nations Together

Peace Is a Chain Reaction: How World War II Japanese Balloon Bombs Brought People of Two Nations Together
by Tanya Lee Stone
Middle School, High School    Candlewick    176 pp.    g
9/22    978-0-7636-7686-5    $24.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5362-2708-6    $24.99

When the United States entered World War II and Japanese Americans were forcibly relocated to various incarceration camps, the Takeshita family was sent first to Topaz, Utah, and then—because they were deemed to be “disloyal”—to Tule Lake, California. Readers are introduced to Yuzuru Takeshita at age fourteen; born in California, he had spent a good chunk of his childhood in Japan and had been struggling to re-acclimate. The narrative then shifts back to Japan to focus on a secretive large-scale effort to create balloon bombs that would be carried by wind currents across the Pacific and explode in the United States, causing havoc, panic, and fear. The bombs largely fail, but one does land, killing six people in a small Oregon town. Stone then segues many years into the future for the third section. Takeshita is an old man and has brought together some of the women who had made the bombs (then high-school girls) with the surviving family members from the Oregon bombing. It’s a healing and cathartic process for all parties. This complicated story includes a large cast of characters, multiple settings, and several shifts in time. It’s a credit to Stone that she fashions them into a cohesive, compelling narrative. Black-and-white captioned photographs appear throughout, while author’s notes, source notes, a bibliography, and an index are appended.

From the September/October 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the coordinator of library media services at the San Diego County Office of Education.

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