ARC Review: The Blossom and the Firefly by Sherri L. Smith

Posted February 16, 2020 by Lisa Mandina in Review / 6 Comments

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Review: The Blossom and the Firefly by Sherri L. SmithThe Blossom and the Firefly by Sherri L. Smith
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on February 18, 2020
Genres: YA Historical Fiction
Pages: 320
Source: the publisher
Format: ARC
My Rating: four-half-stars

From the award-winning author of


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.

My Review:

I was lucky enough to get a copy of this book when I was attending the AASL convention back in November. I was definitely intrigued by the historical aspect of this that is not often found in YA books, at least not that I’ve noticed. At first the jumping from character to character and going back in time for Taro’s part of the story kept me flipping back to figure out where I was, but I soon understood and was able to dive into the story. I was also lucky that we ended up with a snow day the week I chose to read this, because I got to spend my snow day reading and finishing the story.

There was so much that made me think in this book. Originally I gave it only 4 stars, because I thought it was going to be more about Hiroshima or even get us close into Pearl Harbor and what happened with that. But as I continue to think about what I read, and even discuss it with others, I decided to bump it up to 4.5.

One thing that really stood out to me was that the soldiers/pilots, may still have had girls falling in love with them like even American soldiers do. But the end result for these was so different that it really stuck out to me. You see the kamikaze pilots main goal was to crash and burn. To crash into the enemies boats, planes, whatever, and the goal was not to make it out alive. They were sacrificing everything for their country. So if for some reason they didn’t die, then they were considered disgraced and that they’d dishonored their own names. So how hard would it have been to fall in love with those men, boys at times? Not to mention the women’s own sacrificial mindsets. Strapping their children to their bodies and then drowning them as they committed suicide themselves so that they could meet their husband on the other side after his mission was victorious.

Definitely an eye-opening read, one I plan to promote with students and teachers.

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6 responses to “ARC Review: The Blossom and the Firefly by Sherri L. Smith

  1. Danielle Hammelef

    Eye-opening reads are awesome to find because they make me think about my world differently. They also mean the book stays in my mind for a long time. The Fountains of Silence did that for me last September.

    • Lisa Mandina

      Ooh, The Fountains of Silence is one I can’t wait to read! I didn’t get an ARC in time to read it before pub date, so I’m behind. Glad to hear it did that for you, now I know I’ll have to read it!

  2. I’ve been really curious about this one! I feel like I just don’t see a lot of YA historical fiction, so when I do I’m also intrigued. Your point about the pilots is really an interesting one, this books sounds like a great discussion starter!

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