Book review alert (insert alarm noise and picture a siren flashing)! This one was called The Occupation of Joe by Bill Baynes. It was a short book at only around 115 pages. and I flew through it (read it in one day :)).
Synopsis: Tokyo, 1945. A Japanese boy too old for his years, a survivor of the American firebombing, dares to cross the wasteland where he saw thousands burn to death, and approach the occupying forces to get food for his family. A young Navy lieutenant, proud of the Allied victory but appalled by the devastation he sees across the city, cares enough to help. As post-war pressures mount between the two cultures, he becomes entangled in the lives of the boy, his infant sister, and his beautiful mother.
I actually read this book in one sitting. The story was very fluent and would switch between the two main characters, Joe and Isamu.
Isamu is a young boy of 12 and he is trying to help his family survive after the Americans firebombed his village by foraging for food and materials to trade. He uses his skills as an actor to fool Joe into giving him some money in exchange for his expertise with the locals in the area.
Joe is the Communication Officer on his ship and his job is to decode messages in Morse code. He takes a liking to the boy and brings him sandwiches to eat each day when he visits inland.
The characters are well rounded and the author makes it very easy to understand the language barrier between the Joe and the boy. They use a lot of hand signals and motions to try and make sense of each other and the author gives a detailed description of what the hand motions are. This really helps the reader picture how they surpass their differences to work together.
It was easy to read and the author kept me entertained enough to finish it on the same day I started it.
I can’t believe he just dies in the end. He tries to protect the boy by roughing up the gang that bullied him and gets stabbed so much that he doesn’t even make it back to the ship and ends up dying in the snow. The people even start ransacking his body before he is even dead. And then it is just over. The ending really took me by surprise.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Wars or historical fiction. The author definitely did their research on the subject before writing a story about it.
Book Rating: 4/5
Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format to read and give an honest review.