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Reviewed by Saifunnissa Hassam for Readers' Favorite
Toshiharu Kano and Rita Kano's historical fiction novel, Shizue: A Tale of Family, War and Resilience, is based on the life of a Japanese-American family that survives the catastrophic nuclear bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. Shizue and Toshiyuki are cousins, Japanese-Americans born in Hawaii. In 1941, Shizue is in Japan to care for her grandmother at the ancestral Nekomoto family home in Furuichi, near Hiroshima. Toshiyuki has returned to Japan and is an engineer and officer in the Imperial Japanese Army. In 1942 Shizue and Toshiyuki marry to preserve the family's Samurai heritage. Toshiyuki, Shizue, and their children, Yorie and Toshio, survive the immediate nuclear blast but there are consequences to follow.
I was profoundly moved by Shizue: A Tale of Family, War and Resilience. What stands out most in my mind is Shizue's extraordinary courage, inner strength, and her love for her children. Shizue's life and character evoke, in a very powerful and compelling way, the physical, emotional and psychological challenges faced by her family. I found the children's childhood stories very poignant, evoking vividly their hopes and fears, their love and protection of each other in perilous situations. Toshiharu's story is particularly thought-provoking. Born in 1946, he was exposed to nuclear radiation. He was often avoided at school and in society. He was a determined child, full of curiosity. As I read about the family’s later years, what stirred me deeply was the strong, loving bond between Shizue and her son Toshiharu. At its heart, Toshiharu Kano and Rita Kano's Shizue is a tale of love, hope, and forgiveness.