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The Blossom and the Firefly
Cover of The Blossom and the Firefly
The Blossom and the Firefly
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From the award-winning author of Flygirl comes this powerful WWII romance between two Japanese teens caught in the cogs of an unwinnable war, perfect for fans of Salt to the Sea, Lovely War, and Code...
From the award-winning author of Flygirl comes this powerful WWII romance between two Japanese teens caught in the cogs of an unwinnable war, perfect for fans of Salt to the Sea, Lovely War, and Code...
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Description-

  • From the award-winning author of Flygirl comes this powerful WWII romance between two Japanese teens caught in the cogs of an unwinnable war, perfect for fans of Salt to the Sea, Lovely War, and Code Name Verity.
    Japan 1945. Taro is a talented violinist and a kamikaze pilot in the days before his first and only mission. He believes he is ready to die for his country . . . until he meets Hana. Hana hasn't been the same since the day she was buried alive in a collapsed trench during a bomb raid. She wonders if it would have been better to have died that day . . . until she meets Taro.
    A song will bring them together. The war will tear them apart. Is it possible to live an entire lifetime in eight short days?
    Sherri L. Smith has been called "an author with astonishing range" and "a stellar storyteller" by E. Lockhart, the New York Times-bestselling author of We Were Liars, and "a truly talented writer" by Jacqueline Woodson, the National Book Award-winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming. Here, with achingly beautiful prose, Smith weaves a tale of love in the face of death, of hope in the face of tragedy, set against a backdrop of the waning days of the Pacific War.

Excerpts-

  • From the cover Chapter One: Hana

    Japan 1945

    My father’s voice wakes me—thick as wool, slightly scratchy. “Get up, Hana. It’s time to get going.” Music fills the room in a cresting wave. He must be playing the koto again.

    Then a hand rocks my shoulder gently. I roll onto my back, flat on my futon, and open my eyes. There is no music. And I remember: my father has gone off to war.

    My mother is there, kneeling beside me. She pours hot water from a kettle onto a fresh towel in the washbasin.

    “Quickly now. Don’t make Sensei wait.”

    She slips out of the room, and I lie there staring at the ceiling. Wooden slats, darkness. The sun will rise soon.

    I get up. I roll my futon into a bundle, then push it into the closet. I kneel by the basin and unravel the hot towel with burning fingertips. Steam rises off of it like a sail in the wind. I drape it over my face, carefully wiping the corners of my eyes, my mouth. I breathe. Rinse the towel. Slide the cotton yukata from my shoulders to my waist and wipe my chest, my arms. They said the bruising would go away in a week or two. It’s been three. What was once black and purple is now yellow and green, almost gone, but not quite. There is a stiffness that has not left me. But I no longer limp. I should be pleased.

    I finish my towel bath and pull my uniform from the closet. Baggy monpé pants, deep blue, gathered at the ankles and at the waist. I push aside my work shirt and retrieve the rest of my school uniform. Blue jacket. Middy blouse with rounded collar—a bit loose lately. My mother has taken it in twice already, as food has grown less plentiful, folding in the seams without cutting the cloth, tacking the excess fabric down with optimistically loose stitches. As if food and peace are on the horizon and I will need those extra inches back. For now, the cotton bunches uncomfortably beneath my arms, but we must make do. This is a season of emergencies. As was the last season. And the one before.

    I pull on white tabi socks, split between the big and second toe. Brush my hair in quick, long strokes and tie it into a knot at the back of my neck.

    In the kitchen, a rice ball and a weak cup of hot tea await me. I use the tea to wash the taste of ash and dirt from my mouth. It’s there every morning now, these past three weeks, no matter how I scrape my tongue or rinse with water. The rice sticks in my throat, but I know my duty. For a week I would not eat, and I fainted on my first day back with my classmates. Now I do not faint. I swallow the rice, drink the tea.

    “Okā-san, I’m leaving,” I call to my mother.

    She is in the front room, the one that contains my father’s tailoring business. The morning is dim outside, the house darker still. She sits at a low cutting table, sorting through scraps of fabric too small to be of use on their own. When the sun comes up fully, she will pull back the shutters and sew the scraps together by the light of day. Something can always be made of what remains, she says. I hope she is right.

    “Have a good day, Hana. Give Kaori-sensei my best. And see if your farmer has any onions to trade. This patchwork would make decent pants for children.”

    “I will, Okā-san.”

    My mother believes I still work in the fields with my classmates, that I help the farmers indoors with their tallies, their bookkeeping—hence my clean collar, my school uniform instead of work clothes. She believes this because it is what I have told her. It’s what we have been instructed to say to protect...

About the Author-

  • Sherri L. Smith is the author of several novels for young adults, including the critically acclaimed Flygirl, Orleans, and Pasadena, as well as the middle-grade novel The Toymaker's Apprentice. She teaches creative writing at Goddard College and Hamline University and lives in Los Angeles, California.

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine Traci Kato-Kiriyama and Greg Watanabe lend their voices to the narration of this poignant love story set in Japan in 1945. Fifteen-year-old Hana has been tasked with caring for young kamikaze pilots as they prepare for their final missions. Taro, a pilot himself, has set aside his aspiration to be a violinist and has volunteered to die for his country. Kato-Kiriyama and Watanabe capture the melancholy mood of the story as Hana and Taro connect over their shared love of music, despite the unforgiving press of time. With measured pacing and precise diction, Kato-Kiriyama skillfully conveys Hana's gravity and sense of decorum. Watanabe communicates the complex yet intoxicating fervor that takes hold of the young pilots. A nuanced and thoughtful portrayal of love and duty in unthinkable circumstances. S.A.H. � AudioFile 2020, Portland, Maine

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