This months reading challenge was Young Reader, which are some of my favorite books.
"So Far From The Bamboo Grove" by, Yoko Kawashima watkins, had been sitting on my shelf for a very long time waiting for me to read it & once I picked it up I could not put it down.
"Nineteen forty-five was a bad time for a Japanese girl to be living in northern Korea. More than ever, the Koreans resented the Japanese, who had taken over their country and ruled it as their own. Now it was threatened by World War II. The Russians, who had outposts close to the Korean border, might at any time join their allies, the United States and England, in the war against Japan. And the Americans were already bombing industrial sites in northern Korea.
Yet before the danger started, Yoko Kawashima had been happy in her home in a bamboo grove. One of her early memories is of her father bringing her a pair of canaries. Sitting before their cage, she carried on long conversation with them, which she later turned into a story for school. When her classmates laughed and told her that people couldn't talk with birds, Yoko insisted that she could and had. Even then she knew she wanted to be a writer, and of course she was pleased when her story was published in the local paper.
She couldn't know, however, that within a few short years she would be caught in the middle of a real-life story-so grim, so tragic that she would spend years of her adult life trying to get it down on paper.
Yoko Kawashima Watkins, who now lives on Cape Cod, is married to an American and is the mother of four grown children. Her struggle to master English and to record the nightmare of her private war story is a demonstration of the persistence and will she showed as a little girl, escaping from Korea and learning to survive when-as she says-she was "in the most bottom of the bottom."
When this book was accepted for publication, a writer friend told Yoko that now she would be competing with other writers. Yoko said, No, she would not compete with anyone for anything. "I competed with life and death when young," she said. "And I won."
Here is the story of her victory.
- Jean Fritz