Title: Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story
Author: Caren Stelson
Publisher: Lerner PG – Carolrhoda Books. Distributed in Australia by Walker Books

This large format non-fiction book is both moving and informative. As my reading mostly involves fiction, I rarely review non-fiction books. This is one I have been looking forward to reading and leaving it for a time where I could indulge without interruptions was a good idea.

Sachiko was just six years old in 1945 when her life changed forever with the bombing of Nagasaki. Fat Man, code name for the plutonium nuclear bomb that destroyed more than 36 percent of the city, had an explosive force of 19,050 metric tons of TNT. Sachiko was playing with some neighbourhood children when the bomb hit. She was 900 metres from the hypocentre. Miraculously she survived, along with her parents, her beloved uncle and three of her four siblings. In the Sakamoto Cemetery they sheltered in the holes made from the large headstones that had been forced out from the blast, before boarding a rescue train for Shimabara. On August 15, with sixty-six cities now destroyed in his country, Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s unconditional surrender.

The suffering for Sachiko and so many others was not to end, however. Radiation sickness struck many, including Sachiko and her family. Long term effects, such as leukemia, cancer, and scarring from burns,was also prevalent due to the extreme exposure to radiation.

The book explores the effects of the bombings for Sachiko, her family, and others living in Japan. Sachiko’s story is peppered with pages of information to inform readers on many aspects of the bombings and the war leading up to, and after, August 1945. Caren Stelson takes into account information from both the Japanese and American views, much of which was hidden from the media, or censored, at the time. Maps and images provide further information, and there are notes in the back providing additional information and notes on Stelson’s sources. A comprehensive index is included, a glossary of Japanese words, and a list of resources for further research.

Stelson includes information of her and Sachiko’s friendship. This is a well written, well researched book. It is deserving of the many awards and accolades it has received, and I am sure will receive in the future. This book needs to be on the shelf of every secondary school and public library, for readers of all ages.

Click on this link for more information, including teacher notes and a slide show narrated by Caren Stelson.

Many thanks to Walker Books for supplying this book for review.

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