Kuzki, Shaw

Soul Lanterns

(2) 4-6 Translated by Emily Balistrieri. This is a moving, somber look at the 1945 Hiroshima nuclear bombing, seen mostly through the eyes of ­Hiroshima junior high school students--"second-­generation atomic-bomb survivors"--as they attend the 1970 Peace ­Memorial ceremony and prepare for a cultural festival. Friends Nozomi, Shun, and Kozo have a vague idea of what happened during World War II, but they become more curious when Nozomi has an unsettling encounter with an elderly woman who seems to mistake her for someone else. Then their beloved art teacher, Mr. Yoshioka, a former soldier, leaves school due to long-term sickness possibly connected to radiation exposure. The students create an art exhibit highlighting Hiroshima's past and present and interview relatives and neighbors about their experiences. Many of their stories are interspersed throughout the text, turning the novel into a tale about wartime trauma and how art and story can channel empathy, memory, and remembrance. The book also touches upon the issue of complicity and regret when Mr. Yoshioka tells his students that the Japanese people were both aggressors and victims in the war and asks, "How...will we be able to make up for these crimes, to heal these wounds?" The answer, he says, is for future generations to learn from past mistakes, to never be bystanders, and to never forget. Appended with notes about the bombing of Hiroshima and the lantern floating ceremony.


Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.

This coverage is free for all visitors. Your support makes this possible.

We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.