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Sisters Under The Rising Sun by Heather Morris

Powerful

Sisters Under The Rising Sun by Heather Morris is a powerful true story of survival in the Far East during World War II.

The novel starts in 1942 as the Japanese are invading Singapore. The fear and terror at the docks has been captured by the author. Some, make it home. However, the main characters are captured and spend the war in several Japanese P.O.W. camps. This is their story.

The women show much bravery and resilience. They develop a camaraderie, determined to keep going. Comfort is found in the setting up of an orchestra – which is just the women’s voices. They raise morale giving concerts which even the Japanese guards enjoy.

For the women, their war is one of death and disease in the tropical heat, as well as fear, starvation and cruelty. We witness man’s inhumanity to man.

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When The World Was Ours by Liz Kessler

Three Lives. One Photograph

When The World Was Ours by Liz Kessler is a powerful historical children’s novel, suitable for ages twelve years and over. Even as an adult, I found this book an incredibly moving read about a time when Europe was veiled by a terrible dark cloud.

The novel opens in Vienna in 1936 as we meet three nine year old friends, Max, Elsa and Leo, two of whom are Jewish. After one perfect day, captured on a photo, the three vow to be best friends forever.

When The World Was Ours is the story of their individual, and collective, war. Each one had different wartime experiences. Their stories are told in the first person from the three alternating points of view.

This is a powerful tale that is grounded in fact. This is a book that must be read in memory of the six million innocents who perished. May they never be forgotten.

As Hitler’s power increased, childhood was left behind. The three friends who vowed to be together forever, separated by the ravings of a madman.

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Nisha’s War by Dan Smith

Look For The Light

Nisha’s War by Dan Smith is a terrific children’s historical novel, for ages ten years and over. It is a book that will educate you as you read, whilst also entertaining.

The novel is set in 1942 on Barrow Island in the north east of England. There is a secondary location of a rubber plantation in Malaysia in 1941. We ‘hear’ of events in Malaysia and Singapore as the Japanese invaded. These are written down in Nisha’s journal.

Nisha and her mother left their lives behind, fleeing with only the clothes they wore. We hear how terrifying it was as Japanese planes strafed civilians and the chaos at the docks in Singapore. The welcome from Nisha’s paternal grandmother is rather cold.

Life in Malaysia was bright and colourful. In contrast, life on Barrow Island is cold and grey. There is a veil of heaviness that has nothing to do with Hitler’s bombs.

Fear has imprisoned characters, along with its’ partners, guilt and regret. Nisha has a terrible guilty secret weighing her down. She learns that she is not alone. “Children weren’t the only ones to have worries. They weren’t the only ones to have fear and guilt and pain and sadness.” Lives are burdened and grey.

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The Bird In The Bamboo Cage by Hazel Gaynor

Sunflower Seeds

The Bird In The Bamboo Cage by Hazel Gaynor is an incredibly powerful historical novel that will educate you as you read. It is based on true life events, making the book even more powerful.

Much is known about the war in Europe during World War II but far less is known about the war in the Pacific – this book helps to rectify this.

The story opens in China during 1941 at the Chefoo Missionary School. Many will realise the significance of the year as the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941, making war in the Far East a certainty. As the Japanese walked into China, they occupied the missionary school. The whole school moved twice to different internment camps, each one worse than the last. The Japanese guards were incredibly cruel but there were those who maintained their humanity, showing little pockets of kindness.

The tale is told through two alternating points of view – a teacher and a pupil. Their experiences are similar but different as the teacher tries to cushion her pupils from the horrors. Even within the camps, school learning and routines continued, in order to help maintain some familiarity.

In the filth and the cruelty bonds were formed, linking survivors together forever. If you weren’t there, you could never understand what happened.

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