“Four-four-two” Dean Hughes

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Published November 8, 2016. Atheneum Books. 268 p. (Includes “Preface,” “Author’s Note,” and period photographs.)

FourFourTwoYuki and his best friend Shig were busy being teenagers when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. Though American citizens, both suddenly found themselves considered enemies of their own country. Along with thousands of other Japanese American citizens, Yuki and Shig lost their homes and everything they owned when they and their families were forcefully relocated to an internment camp in the middle of a desert.

Eager to gain back the respect they felt they’d lost in the eyes of their fellow citizens, Yuki and Shig joined the army where they were assigned to the all-Japanese 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Yuki’s story of love, loss, friendship, and brotherhood will tug at reader’s heartstrings.

Hughes’ descriptions of the many battles fought by this extremely brave unit, along with the prejudice faced by these soldiers both in and out of the army, will prove to be eye opening to many readers.

Highly recommended for all high school and public libraries.

“The school the Aztec Eagles built: A tribute to Mexico’s World War II air fighters” Dorinda Makanaonalani Nicholson

Rated 5 stars ***** Lee & Low. 2016. 40 p. (Includes “Author’s Note,” “Glossary and Pronunciation Guide,” “Author’s Sources,” and “Quotation Sources.”)

theschooltheazteceaglesbuiltThough not directly involved in World War II, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor Mexico aided the United States with shipments of oil and war materials. As retaliation for these shipments, German U-boats torpedoed two of their ships. Mexico entered the war on May 28th, and volunteered its best air force pilots to assist the United States.

No military unit in Mexico’s history had ever left the country to fight, but Air Fighter Squadron 201 became the first to do so. Nicknamed the Aztec Eagles, the almost 300 pilots and support crew set off for the United States to be trained. When their training was completed, they went on to support General MacArthur in his Philippines campaign.

Through period photographs, interviews, and careful research Nicholson tells the story of the courageous men of the Aztec Eagles. Her inspiration for their story was the unusual request from one of the support crewmembers, Sergeant Angel Bocanegra a former teacher, who asked the President of Mexico to build a school in his small village of Tepoztlán. The school still stands in their honor, and this book also honors those brave men who fought on behalf of both the United States and Mexico.

Highly recommended for ages 10-14.

“Girl on a plane” Miriam Moss

Rated 4 stars **** ARC. Published September 13, 2016. Houghton Mifflin. 277 p. (Includes a Postscript and a Q & A with the author).

girlonaplaneAnna’s father works for the Army, and has been stationed all over the world. Since she had to move all the time, schoolwork and making friends became challenging. So, 4 years ago, she began going to boarding school in England. That fateful September day in 1970 started out like any other trip to school. Her parents drove her to the airport, she kissed them and her little brothers goodbye, and boarded the plane thinking about how much she would be missing their stay in Bahrain.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take longer before her plane was hijacked by the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine). Seeking public support for their cause, they had been regularly hijacking planes, but Anna never thought her plane would be on their list. “Girl on a plane” is Anna’s story of the four harrowing days spent with the hijackers, without much food or water, not knowing if she and the other passengers would get blown up with the plane in the middle of the desert.

“Girl on a Plane” is a fictional story, based on a real life hijacking experienced by the author when she was 15 years old. During the Postscript and Q & A, readers learn of many similarities between Anna’s story and Miriam’s real life story.

I never knew there were so many hijackings in 1970, which made me very upset that the United States never thought to secure their own planes from hijackers. If they had done so back in 1970, 9/11 would never have happened. Yes these hijackings took place outside of the U.S. while we were busy in Vietnam, but one would think that we would’ve thought about securing our planes. Hindsight is 20/20, but knowing what I now know about these hijackings doesn’t make our inaction any easier to stomach.

Recommended for 14 and older.

“Orhan’s Inheritance” Aline Ohanesian

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Ebook. 2015. Algonquin Books.

Orhan'sInheritanceForced to return to his tiny village in Turkey from the big city of Istanbul for the reading of the will after his beloved grandfather Kemal dies, Orhan is shocked when his ancestral home is left to a stranger named Seda. Knowing his father and aunt would be displaced if this happens, he is determined to travel to the United States and confront the mysterious woman named in the will.

Orhan finds 90 year old Seda living in an Armenian nursing home, stubbornly refusing to reveal her ties to Kemal. Through persistence and an invisible bond that seems to draw them together, Orhan slowly learns the painful secrets hidden in Kemal and Seda’s pasts which forever changed both of their lives.

Kemal and Seda’s hopes and dreams, often reminding me of the famous star crossed lovers in Romeo and Juliet, is intermingled with the horrors of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The more I read the more I could see its sad comparison to the events of the Trail of Tears, and how similar warped thinking by people in leadership led to the Holocaust.

These awful lessons from the past should never be repeated, and should serve as a reminder to beware of those who execrate others based on race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation – especially those in leadership or those seeking to become a leader. Thank you Aline for educating us, and for reminding your readers to never forget crimes committed against humanity. As George Santayana wrote in 1905, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We need to remember.

Highly recommended for Adults.

“One Lavender Ribbon” Heather Burch

Rated 2 stars ** ebook. 2014. Montlake Romance.

OneLavenderRibbonAfter a bad divorce Adrienne Carter used her settlement money to buy a rundown Victorian home in Florida she planned to renovate. One evening she came across a stack of love letters from William, a World War II soldier, addressed to someone named Grace. After spending time reading them, Adrienne became intrigued and decided to see if she could find William.

When Adrienne located William “Pop” Bryant, his irascible grandson Will didn’t take kindly to her because he thought she wanted to take advantage of his grandfather. It didn’t take long for his irritability to change to affection. For her part Adrienne kept her emotions in check, not wanting to fall for a man who reminded her too much of her first husband.

Soon more secrets began to be revealed. Knowing her involvement in solving them would arouse Will’s wrath, Adrienne forged ahead and soon found herself debating whether or not she should have let the past interfere with her present.

“One Lavender Ribbon” created likable characters like Pops and Sara, but Adrienne’s solving of so many secrets in such a short time gave it an unrealistic feeling. It was published by an Amazon imprint and needed editorial help with “taught” being used instead of “taut,” comma overuse and other errors.

Despite these problems it did have my interest, as I liked William and Sara. Perhaps if the author had told their story, and set it during World War II, I might have liked it better.

I’ll leave it up to you Adult readers to decide if you want to Read it or Not.

 

“The Canal Bridge: A Novel of Ireland, Love and the First World War” Tom Phelan

Rated 5 stars ***** To be published April 1, 2014. (First published in Ireland in 2005). ebook. ARC. Arcade Publishing. (Includes Acknowledgments, Glossary and a Selected Bibliography).

TheCanalBridgeKitty, her brother Con, and his best friend Matthias were inseparable. They lived by a canal in a small town in Ireland, and grew up singing how “their side” was the best side. Amusing themselves on the canal, in the canal and on the towpath beside it, their lives revolved around each other and the canal.

When Matthias was 18 he and Con decided to join the British Army as they loved reading about foreign places, and joining would give them the opportunity to see the world. Despite being branded as traitors by some of their countrymen because of fighting for the British, they chose to leave all they knew behind and enlist. Sadly, they only got as far as the Mediterranean Sea before war against Germany broke out, and England rushed to the aid of France.

On the war front, Matthias, Con and the rest of the boys from Ireland experienced horrors no one would ever be able to erase from their memories. As they struggled to breathe in trenches filled with stagnant water and decaying bodies, or managed to survive violent battles, their minds constantly wandered back to Ireland wishing for the peacefulness of their youth.

Meanwhile Ireland was going through its own battles, as the Easter Uprising of 1916 caused even more hatred against their English oppressors. Ireland was now even more divided with Irish supporters against anything Protestant, including the home where Kitty worked and filled her mind with hopeful thoughts that Matthias and Con would come safely home. None of these three friends knew that this war would not only tear Ireland apart, but would also tear everything they ever knew about themselves into oblivion.

The horrific events of World War I are shown through the eyes of those who suffered and died as soldiers and nurses. It is unthinkable that despite all these deaths (over 57,000 killed in just one day) that the world would embark on yet another war just a few short years later. Students of history and of Ireland will learn much through reading this book.

Recommended for Adult readers.

 

“The Impossible Knife of Memory” Laurie Halse Anderson

Rated 5 stars ***** (Viking Juvenile. ebook. 372 pp. 2013.)

TheImpossibleKnifeOfMemoryHayley Kincaid and her veteran dad have been traveling across the country in his truck for years as he home schooled her and they evaded reality. Life was good, despite the fact he suffered from PTSD from his time in Iraq and had many bad days and nights brought on by drugs, drinking binges, and flashbacks. After settling down in her grandmother’s old house during her senior year so she could go to a real school, Hayley was hopeful her dad would get better. Instead he deteriorated even more, necessitating a constant cycle of lying to the world and herself about his behavior.

Little by little, parts of her own soul began to be cut away by her dad’s binges along with the return of the stepmother she hated. While teetering on the edges of sanity, Finn entered her life. Not exactly a heartthrob, his silly antics and banter helped keep her mind off the seriousness of her home life and made her feel a ray of hope through her despair. Unfortunately even Finn couldn’t keep her father’s PSTD from worsening as his self destructive path seemed to be leading in one direction. Haley and her dad would soon find themselves in the biggest fight of their lives.

Laurie Halse Anderson’s realistic portrayal of Hayley and her father’s struggles with PTSD sheds a new light on what soldiers go through when they return from their service to the nation. Reading it may cause some of her readers to seek the help they need for their loved ones.

On a side note there were many editing errors that will, hopefully, be corrected in future editions.

Recommended for readers aged 14 and older.