Reviews

Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story, by Caren Stelson

daisey's review against another edition

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4.0

Beginning in the summer of 1945, when Sachiko was six years old, this book follows her story through the bombing of Nagasaki and her life afterwards. The details of the day that the bomb was dropped on the city and the months immediately following were heartbreaking. They were described in a way that made the horror of the event incredibly clear, yet without graphic detail. As the story went on, it focused on efforts by the Japanese people and Sachiko, in particular, to work for future peace.

I highly recommend this book for young readers learning about or interested in World War II.

* I received an electronic copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review.

tbclawson's review against another edition

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5.0

Obsessed with this one. Such an important time in history. Sachiko's story reads like a novel, with very pertinent and interesting informational asides. Told from a distinctly Japanese point of view, which I believe is important for American kids to see and understand. We all should keep in mind the most important phrase from this book . . . Never again.

bhavani's review against another edition

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5.0

Have you watched Studio Ghibli's Grave of the Fireflies? It's the story of a pair of siblings caught in the destruction caused by World War II. If you haven't seen it, I recommend that you do. If you're like me, you can't bear to watch it again. Reading Sachiko is like rewatching Grave of the Fireflies, but even more heartwrenching because it's a true story.

Sachiko Yasui was a 6-year old on the morning of August 9, 1945, when the Fat Man nuclear bomb detonates over her town. It follows her story to the present day, with the effects of the bombing reverberating through the days, months, years, and decades that came after.

We've all heard the official story in one form or another; Japan's refusal to accept an unconditional surrender following its allies' defeat; the political justifications for dropping the bombs. This information is essential but it isn't the full story. As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warned, there is danger in the single story. Until recently, I've rarely read or heard about the personal experiences of people living in Nagasaki and Hiroshima at the time. This book fills that void, and it does so with grace and compassion.

In Sachiko, we find a real-life Scout Finch, viewing the destruction and loss around her with clear-eyed innocence. A child who grows up to be an advocate for peace and universal love.

Caren Stelson did a wonderful job of writing Sachiko’s story. She gives details to supplement the tale and set the stage wherever necessary, but refrains from moralizing anyone’s actions. She leaves that to the reader. And this reader can’t help but wonder if Harry Truman’s decisions weren’t driven by revenge for Pearl Harbor and racism against the Japanese.

Whatever lesson or knowledge you may take away from this book, I think it’s fair to say that Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story is a vital addition to first-person accounts of WWII, especially amid rising nationalism worldwide. As more of these witnesses pass on, there is a sense of urgency in telling their stories to ensure that future generations do not forget and repeat the same mistakes. I think this book should be required reading in schools everywhere.

P.S.: Keep a handkerchief next to you when reading this book. Trust me, you’ll need it.

annieandherbooks's review against another edition

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5.0

4.5
This is a heart wrenching, honest, beautiful, informative, eye opening, gut punch of a book. And it's a work of nonfiction. It's all true. Sachiko's story is amazing and horrible and sad and uplifting and I feel honored to have been able to read it in this book. What a unique and beautiful book, both in story and in visual presence. The images, charts, maps, etc also really elevate this book.
I would have loved more of the historical information and details. I would love for this book (which is written for kids and teens, though is just as moving and informative for adults) to be expanded and added to for a full history/biography/memoir.

sumirra's review against another edition

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5.0

"Remember this," she said

"Every word is precious.
One word can make you feel loved.
One word can hurt. One word can make you cry.
One word can break your heart.
One word can do so much damage.
One word can do so much good.
Even one word can lead people.
One word can protect world peace.
Every word is precious."

forest_reader's review against another edition

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3.0

Sachiko is the story of a survivor of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki. It follows her story from when she was six years old and hit by the bomb all the way until late in her life. The book also offers side pages of WWII information to help you put Sachiko’s story into context. And while I found it interesting to read, I wasn’t blown away. The writing felt very removed from the incident, and even after reading a whole book about Sachiko, I feel I barely know her. In fact, the book sorta felt like a Wikipedia article written by a distant friend. I wanted more depth and feeling and less facts. But I still think this book has value in educating people about the consequences of our bomb, so it gets 3 stars.

rhiparent's review against another edition

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5.0

To be completely honest, I didn't really know what this book was about when I chose it for my informational text. I just ended up with it because it was the cheapest option of the books on the syllabus under this category for me to rent from Textbook Brokers. However, I feel so lucky that I did end up with this book because it really changed my outlook on certain aspects of life and I learned a lot of new information. I never really learned about how the US bombed Japan in school- I feel like all of the information we learned about World War II was centered around the Holocaust and what was happening in Germany. I knew that we had used nuclear bombs on Hiroshima, but I didn't know just how catastrophic it was, how many cities we actually bombed, and I didn't know about the extent of the aftereffects either. Unfortunately, it seems like a majority of the population (both Japanese and American) didn't know about the aftereffects of being exposed to radiation even years after the bombings because talking about it was so heavily censored by the American Government.

I made the mistake of starting to read this book while I was at work. I work at a preschool, and while the kids are asleep (after all of the chores are done) we will often read books or work on homework until it is time for them to wake up. I read about the first 50 pages of this book during naptime on Monday until I had to stop because I was crying so hard I was afraid I was going to wake up my class. It continued on like that until about halfway through the book. The amount of pain that Sachiko and her family and everyone else that was affected by nuclear strikes is almost incomprehensible to me. I can't imagine going through so much trauma at such a young age.

For being an informational book, Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story was actually a fairly fast-paced read for me, I think because a majority of it is written like a memoir and so much of it focuses on Sachiko's story and her strength. Sachiko's story is so inspiring, and I would definitely want to use this book in my classroom, however, I probably wouldn't use it for anyone younger than middle school just because it is such a heavy topic. I am so glad that I read this book. I learned so much, and I have been thinking about Sachiko constantly since I finished it. I'm sure her story will live with me for a very long time. Also, this book inspired me to check some books about Gandhi, MLK Jr, and Helen Keller out of the library!

evamadera1's review against another edition

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3.0

I find myself in the minority when it comes to opinions of this book.
First, I read this book in my quest to finish reading all the books on the nominee list for the South Carolina Librarians Association Young Adult list for the 18-19 school year. (I have read the ones on the Junior list for 18-19 and 19-20 as well as the young adult list for 19-20.)
The young adult list targets books meant for high schoolers. Upon reading this book, I felt like the narrative talked down to the reader. It simplifies far too much and avoids significant details, spanning a lifetime in a few pages.
While I wholeheartedly believe that this story desperately needs to be told, I feel like Stelson did Sachiko's story an injustice with this simplified telling. Many of my middle schoolers would decline to pick up this book because of its simplified nature and this book supposedly targets high schoolers.

chyneyee's review

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5.0

I have to take a momentary break for every few pages that I’ve read. This is a heartwrenching story of Sachiko recounting her memories during the Nagasaki bombing when she was six years old.

The year 2021 has only just begun. And I already felt this book will be one of the most unforgettable books that I’ve read this year, and probably in my entire life.

Book Review: Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story by Caren Stelson.

kittalia's review against another edition

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4.0

August 9, 1945 began as a normal day for six-year-old Sachiko—little food, a chicken that didn’t lay, but a loving family and good friends. In Nagasaki, 1945, times are tough but survivable—at least, until Sachiko’s game of house is interrupted by a falling bomb. Her youngest brother is dead immediately; as her family flees, another brother dies from his burns, and another from the radiation sickness. Sachiko, her sister, and her parents are sick for months, but they recover to become survivors of an atomic bomb blast. Even for survivors, the rigors of postwar life and the mysterious ailments and cancers that afflict those near the bombing take a deadly toll. Sachiko’s story is clearly told with simple, unpretentious language that makes it easily readable for all ages. Interspersed between chapters, two-page spreads give historical background in more detail; some of these the average American will find familiar, but others are more unusual. As I read Sachiko, I was surprised by all the things I had never been taught—the symptoms of radiation poisoning (besides cancer), the quality of life in postwar Japan, and the way the doctors sent to study the effects of radiation refused to acknowledge its existence. Although the simplicity of this book may be frustrating for some adults, this book should be a part of every school’s education.