Review of Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story

stelson_sachikoSachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story
by Caren Stelson
Middle School, High School    Carolrhoda    144 pp.
10/16    978-1-4677-8903-5    $19.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5124-1884-2    $9.99

The result of extensive interviews with Nagasaki atomic bomb survivor Sachiko Yasui, Stelson’s sensitively crafted account spans fifty years of Yasui’s life, starting in August 1945 when the bomb was dropped (she was six years old) and ending in August 1995, when Yasui agreed to speak publicly about her experiences for the first time. Stelson structures her narrative around Yasui’s decades-long struggle to find the courage to share her traumatic story with others; her eventual decision to finally speak up — “What happened to me must never happen to you” — is movingly foreshadowed when, years after the bomb, Yasui fights to regain her voice after radiation-related thyroid cancer takes away her ability to talk. Stelson wisely uses a limited-omniscient point of view, allowing readers to see events through Yasui’s eyes but not become overwhelmed by the horrors she endured. Her tragic tale is full of terror and despair, but hope and peace also loom large, as Yasui finds strength and inspiration in such figures as Helen Keller, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. Interspersed with ten brief, informative essays (“Racism and War,” “Radiation Sickness,” “The H-Bomb,” etc.) and illustrated with numerous photos, this is a significant addition to the available material. An author’s note, a glossary of Japanese words, ample source notes, a bibliography arranged by subject, lists of related books and websites, and an index are appended.

From the January/February 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Jennifer M. Brabander

Jennifer M. Brabander is former senior editor of The Horn Book Magazine. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature from Simmons University.

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