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Under the Broken Sky



by
Mariko Nagai

Edition
Hardcover edition
Publisher
Macmillan
Imprint
Henry Holt and Company, Inc.
ISBN
9781250159212

Awards and Honors
NCTE’s 2020 Notable Poetry List in the Notable Verse Novels Category
POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Violence: War/Harsh Realities of War
$12.90   $10.75
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QTY

JLG Category

PG Middle Plus

Twelve-year-old Natsu and her family live a quiet farm life in Manchuria, near the border of the Soviet Union. But the life they’ve known begins to unravel when her father is recruited to the Japanese army, and Natsu and her little sister, Cricket, are left orphaned and destitute. In a desperate move to keep her sister alive, Natsu sells Cricket to a Russian family following the 1945 Soviet occupation. The journey to redemption for Natsu's broken family is rife with struggles, but Natsu is tenacious and will stop at nothing to get her little sister back.

Literary and historically insightful, this is one of the great untold stories of WWII. Much like the Newbery Honor book Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, Under the Broken Sky is powerful, poignant, and ultimately hopeful.

Afterword. Black-and-white photograph.

POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Violence: War/Harsh Realities of War

Details

Format

Print

Page Count

304

Trim Size

8 1/4" x 5 1/2"

Dewey

F

AR

5.5: points 5

Lexile

870L

Genre

Fiction

Scholastic Reading Counts

0

JLG Release

Mar 2020

Book Genres

Historical Fiction; Novels in Verse; Realistic Fiction

Topics

World War II (1939–1945). Novels in verse. Manchuria, China. Survival. Refugees. Sisters. History of Manchuria, China, 1931–1945.

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Cover Art

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

School Library Journal, Booklist*

School Library Journal

A moving story of one Japanese family’s survival in occupied Manchuria during World War II. The small farm where 12-year-old Natsu lives with her father and her sister, Asa, is all she has ever known. But when her father is forced to join the Japanese army, everything begins to change. He makes Natsu promise three things: keep his backpack, stay together, and if anything happens, run! Before long, the Soviet army forces the women and children to flee the settlement. Walking for weeks, they finally arrive at the Chinese city of Harbin. They are crammed together in an old school building, where hunger, fear, and death prevail. When Natsu falls ill, she decides to save Asa by selling her to a Russian family. Incredibly, she regains her health and learns of a boat returning refugees to Japan. Yet Natsu holds fast to her promise: she will not leave without her sister. Nagai writes in verse with both a detached hesitancy, as if looking at the story from a distance, and a deep understanding of the sisters’ pain through rich imagery that poetry so often allows. It is a hard history to swallow, but it is made palatable through the characters’ tenacity and belief in an outcome greater than their own. Echoing the hardships and redemption of many novels about World War II, this well-timed story about a lesser-known group of refugees adds an important chapter to the narrative of human oppression and survival.

Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

A moving story of one Japanese family’s survival in occupied Manchuria during World War II. The small farm where 12-year-old Natsu lives with her father and her sister, Asa, is all she has ever known. But when her father is forced to join the Japanese army, everything begins to change. He makes Natsu promise three things: keep his backpack, stay together, and if anything happens, run! Before long, the Soviet army forces the women and children to flee the settlement. Walking for weeks, they finally arrive at the Chinese city of Harbin. They are crammed together in an old school building, where hunger, fear, and death prevail. When Natsu falls ill, she decides to save Asa by selling her to a Russian family. Incredibly, she regains her health and learns of a boat returning refugees to Japan. Yet Natsu holds fast to her promise: she will not leave without her sister. Nagai writes in verse with both a detached hesitancy, as if looking at the story from a distance, and a deep understanding of the sisters’ pain through rich imagery that poetry so often allows. It is a hard history to swallow, but it is made palatable through the characters’ tenacity and belief in an outcome greater than their own. Echoing the hardships and redemption of many novels about World War II, this well-timed story about a lesser-known group of refugees adds an important chapter to the narrative of human oppression and survival.

Grades 5-8
PG Middle Plus
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PG Middle Plus
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