“Enola Gay. Hmm. Enola Gay.” As I walked past the historic plane, I was wracking my brain trying to remember where I had heard the name. The moment I remembered, I froze.
The plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.
I stopped in my tracks and looked again, filled with conflicting emotions. Grief over the lives lost. Pride in the brave men who flew it and helped protect our country and bring about the end of the devastating war.
Then I looked up and saw two Japanese people, both twentyish, a man and a woman. My insides roiled as I wondered what they saw when they looked at this relic. They approached me and I found out they represented a television station in Japan, and they asked if they could interview me about my thoughts on the dropping of the atomic bomb. Yikes!
Yeah, I kind of panic at things like that. Fortunately, my big sister was there, too, and she can be very eloquent. Plus, as I found out, she had recently watched a historical feature about it and has had multiple discussions with her husband and son, so she was able to give a very kind answer that expressed her position well.
The Plum Blooms in Winter
Series: Brands from the Burning #1
Published by Mountain Brook Ink
Publication Date December 1, 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Action/Adventure
Setting: Japan, China World War II Era - 1939 - 1946
Main Character Ages: 18-24, 25-34
Written for: Adults
A Prostitute Seeks Her Revenge--In 1942, Miyako Matsuura cradled her little brother as he died on the sidewalk, a victim of the first U.S. bombing raid on Japan. By 1948, the war has reduced her to a street-hardened prostitute consumed by her shame.
A WWII Hero Finds His True Mission--Dave Delham makes military aviation history piloting a B-25 in the audacious Doolittle Raid. Forced to bail out over occupied China, he and his crew are captured by the Japanese and survive a harrowing P.O.W. ordeal. In 1948, he returns to Japan as a Christian missionary, determined to showcase Christ's forgiveness.
Convinced that Delham was responsible for the bomb that snuffed out her brother's life, Miyako resolves to restore her honor by avenging him--even if it costs her own life. But the huntress soon becomes hunted in Osaka's treacherous underworld. Miyako must outmaneuver a ruthless brothel owner, outwit gangs with competing plans to profit by her, and overcome betrayal by family and friends--only to confront a decision that will change everything.
I would like to thank Mountain Brook Ink for giving me this copy of the book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.
Thinking back on this book, my eyes are filling with tears again. Painful tears because the story is not pretty. It highlights a terrible time in history and a culture that believed might makes right and that honor matters more than anything else. And yet happy tears because it is the story of redemption highlighting the mercy and grace that come only from God.
Using time-slip to connect the events during the war and the time thereafter, the author seamlessly and naturally wove the narrative around the lives of two very different people, the American flyer who dropped bombs that destroyed Japanese lives and the young woman turned prostitute seeking her family’s honor through revenge.
Reading this story ripped my heart into pieces. Yet, despite its dark nature, there were glimmers of hope. And it was so compelling and beautifully written I was drawn forward, needing to see how it worked out.
I confess that I almost quit part-way through. It was just so much. Experiencing the pain and privation of the prisoner of war. Reading of the abuse and shame and pain of a young woman forced into a despicable profession that she couldn’t let her father know about. Seeing her overwhelming need for avenging the deaths of so many in her family. Desperately seeking honor against seemingly insurmountable odds.
It hurt. Yet I am so glad I finished. The hope and redemption that shone through made it all worthwhile. While Dave’s story was not unexpected, Miyako’s story was so full of twists and turns and surprises I never knew what to expect or even what to hope for her.
I plan on reading the next book in the series, realizing even now that it, too, will probably affect me like this. While the ending was enough, it hinted at much more to come and I am anxiously awaiting its release already.
I am amazed that this masterpiece was written by a debut author. Keep your eyes on her – if the books that follow are anything like this one, she is going to be winning all kinds of awards!
If you are looking for a light, easy read, keep looking – this is not it. But if you are looking for a story that has substance, one that will challenge you, look no further. Be prepared to read it the entire way through, though – you will not want to put it down.
In case you didn’t pick up on this from the book description or the review, I’ll just put a quick warning here. This story is not for young teenagers. It is incredibly heavy subject matter. Torture, prostitution, and the horrors of a nation recovering from war. While it is handled delicately and tactfully, it is a major part of the story and the author did not attempt to disguise or whitewash it.