Chrysanthemum Girl

Atsuko Oshiro is seventeen years old, and her life is falling apart. She's always lived on a farm and is used to hard work. But now it's much more difficult. Her country, Japan, has been at war the entire time she has been a teenager. As Japan marches toward defeat, the government enacts increasingly harsh policies. Food and supplies become scarce; people go hungry. Atsuko's dream of a university education vanishes when her school closes. The army confiscates their livestock and takes a large portion of their crops. To have enough food, the family must use the black market, an offense punishable by execution. The war moves closer to Atsuko's home on a small island near Okinawa, and the army commandeers the Oshiro farm. When that happens, the family is forced to leave. At a time when civilians are urged to commit suicide, the family takes refuge in a cave while the Battle for Okinawa rages all around them. Now it's a daily struggle to find food and water, as well as living with constant, numbing fear—fear of discovery, fear of torture, and fear of death. Throughout her ordeal, Atsuko manages to look forward to a time of peace. Of growing importance is her relationship with Gorou Kimura. The young fisherman has been a good friend to the family—brought them food and helped their move to the cave. The warm friendship he shares with Atsuko deepens, and the two have hopes for a future together. That hope, of course, is based on the war ending in time for them to survive.

by Frances Snyder

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