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The Blossom and the Firefly

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  146 ratings  ·  48 reviews
A WWII romance between two Japanese teens caught in the cogs of an unwinnable war.

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
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 18th 2020 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
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Sophie_The_Jedi_Knight Hana is 15, Taro is 17. It sort of reads like romance, but I honestly think that it could read as just an intense bond between two people. There's…moreHana is 15, Taro is 17. It sort of reads like romance, but I honestly think that it could read as just an intense bond between two people. There's nothing beyond kissing.(less)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  146 ratings  ·  48 reviews

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If I was to sum this up in one word, that word would have to be the word stunning. A gloriously atmospheric, melancholic dive into a world we never see portrayed, the world of the women who cared for and loved the Japanese pilots as they set off to sacrifice themselves in war. This is the story of a pilot and a young high school student, their lives disrupted by a war not of their making, and their gradual realisation that small kindnesses have a lasting effect. That their short lives are to be ...more
bee  ˘͈ᵕ˘͈
three stars ∗ im sad to say that i didnt love this as much as i hoped i would :( while i did enjoy learning more about an aspect of wwii that i was ignorant about, i just felt as if there wasnt much of a plot to it. the writing was quite descriptive and dragged on a bit, and the switched between first person and third person pov was difficult to get used to. overall, this was a somewhat enjoyable read but just not for me, unfortunately. ∗ ...more
Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful story. Well written. You can really tell the author did her research. Would reccomend it to teens and adults that like historical fiction!

I loved the history element so much but sadly didnt connect as much with Hanas chapters or the romance. Honestly felt more emotion towards Taros friendship and guilt/shame, which I wish was explored more.
Ms. Yingling
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ARC provided by Follett First Look

Taro is born to a middle class family in Japan, and takes to the violin at a very early age. Hana is the daughter of tailors who live in Chiran, on Kyushu. Her father goes off to fight in the war, and her mother is left to carry on with the business. Taro ends up in flight training, like most young men his age in the early 1940s, and eventually ends up at an air base near Hana, destined to be a kamikaze, or tokko, pilot. Hana's school stops teaching, and after
Eva B.
Jan 18, 2020 marked it as to-read
*Sees Code Name Verity and Salt To The Sea as comp titles*
*Adds immediately*
Meg at
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart. -Pablo Casals
The Blossom and the Firefly is a poignant story about two young lives that are swept up in the turmoil of WWII in Japan. Sherri L. Smith creates such a beautiful tale, both elegantly written and executed, it will no doubt become a timeless classic for any age.

I was swept away by Sherri L. Smith. The Blossom and the Firefly gives a voice to two young adults on the other side of the ocean during the lead-up and
C.P. Cabaniss
"Because some moments can never have an after, no matter how much we want what might have been."

I don't think I've ever read a historical fiction novel about Japan, so I was very curious to see what this would be like. In many ways, it was quite beautiful. I liked the characters and the nonlinear aspect of the story structure. The writing was a little stilted for me and never drew me in or gave me the emotional connection with the characters that I'm always looking for.

An interesting look at
Dec 18, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Received this ARC from my local library. Review to come.
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Releases in February of 2020, I have read an advance reader copy from the publisher. I requested the ARC after hearing so much about this YA book. My first read by author Sherri Smith, it wont be my last. Exceptional research, story and character development. Set in Japan 1945. Taro is a talented violinist and a body-crash (kamikaze) pilot. Hana was almost killed in a bomb raid. They both believe they are meant to die. Then they find each other. Amazing storytelling.
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely stunning. Get the tissues ready for this one.
The Blossom and the Firefly is set in Japan in 1945. It follows two characters, Hana and Taro. Hana has not been the same since she was buried alive in a trench after a bombing. But her and her friends have a duty as Nadeshiko, teenage girls who were sent to the airbase in Chiran to be the final faces and wave off the tokkō pilots of the Japanese Air Force. Taro is a tokkō, a pilot whose only mission is to crash his plane into the enemy ships. When the two meet, they realize that there is more ...more
Received advanced reader copy from publisher via Baker & Taylor book supplier

Taro is a talented violinist but his father continually tells him that Japan needs pilots not musicians. So, Taro enlists in the military, trains to be a pilot, and prepares himself to die for his country. Hana hasnt been the same since her friends pulled her from a trench after she was buried alive during a bombing. Then, as she serves at the local air base, sending pilots to the sky with bows and cherry blossoms,
Glitter Sherlocked
It's definitely the best book I've read this year
Feb 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read2020
3.5 stars. A good read.
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lately I have been reading a lot of historical fiction. It is the genre I have been enjoying the most. So when I learned about this at ALA, I knew and needed to read. And I am glad that I did. The Blossom and the Firefly is a unique and poignant read.

The strength of this book is in the writing. Sherri Smith has crafted a beautiful and lyrical portrait of war and the affects it has on the people who fight. It is a beautiful story of love, loss, duty, and honor that makes you think and feel. The
Lisa Mandina
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was definitely intrigued by the historical aspect of this that is not often found in YA books, at least not that Ive noticed. At first the jumping from character to character and going back in time for Taros 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
Diane Ferbrache
Historical fiction for young adults about Japan during World War 2. Hana is a school girl whose education has been interrupted by war. She and her friends are conscripted to serve as assistants to young soldiers & pilots, doing their laundry, mending their clothes, and cooking & serving their food. Tora is a young pilot destined for a suicide mission. He and Hana share a love of music and a (very chaste) romance/friendship begins.

This is a heartbreaking & gutwrenching look at Japan
Grace T
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was . . . this was phenomenal.

It was like the vibe, historicity, etc. of The Wind Rises crossed with the art style and a little something else of Your Name, transmuted into writing form with beautiful results. The writing blended poetic passages with concrete images and poignant emotions to make this an absolutely wonderful story.

The setup of the book, with Hana's story in the present and the first large section of Taro's told in the past, helped keep the beginning of their connection from
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
It is so easy for those of us on the winning side of WWII to forget the opposing countries have their own stories of daily existence and hardship. How do the people on the losing side of a war deal with the day-by-day loss? the hardships resulting from war and diminishing resources? And add to that the cultural self-definition from which the citizenry support the war effort as loss affects that self-definition. Big questions.

Several recent books are exploring these questions. The Blossom and
This novel was pure perfection for so many reasons. There are two main characters, Hana and Taro. The novel flips from Hanas perspective to Taros perspective. So, this isnt just a girl book or a boy book. It was moving to read about Hanas roles and thoughts during WWII in Japan and then read Taros love and desire to play music but being forced to be a kamikaze pilot. And, to add to that, the author did a tremendous amount of research, so the novel is extremely accurate.

What I also loved was the
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Blossom and the Firefly is the poignant and heartbreaking tale of Hana and Taro, two young souls who meet on the edge of life and death in the final days of World War II.

Hana should have died, but now she serves the Tokko pilots, young men, barely out of boyhood who are dedicated to serving their country and Emperor with everything, including their lives. Taro has two different dreams, one of a life of music, while the other demands he honor is family's legacy and become a pilot.

This was a beautiful use of dual narration, as the story comes alive through the eyes of both main characters. I loved Hana's dedication, spirit, and how authentically the author dealt with her trauma. Her recovery was not swift or easy, but it did happen slowly over time. I also enjoyed Taro's perspective, though I found him more difficult to connect with. I think what really hit me about this book is how challenging it is to sympathize or empathize with "the enemy." Clearly, this is a war that ...more
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting and different perspective on World War II. Told from the Japanese point of view, two teenagers deal with the disruption in their lives. Smith has done a large amount of research to come up with the story. Hana, a school girl, is pulled out of school to go work on a sweet potato farm, where she survives a bomb attack. She moves from there to become a maid at a military base serving the pilots being trained to become body crashers or kamikaze pilots. Taro is a talented violinist, ...more
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin for the advance Kindle copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 for this 2.18.20 release. It is a devastatingly beautiful, sad, and lyrical story of love found during war. Tato has given his life as a tokku- Samurai pilot. His last stop before he body crashes is where he comes across Hana, schoolgirl whose class helps care for the pilots during their last days. Music unites them, and as his days grow numbered, the two find a connection they never
Is my heart still here? It is? Oh, good!

That opening line should tell you what you may expect with this book. With a topic on kamikaze pilots, you should not be expecting an easy, breezy walk in the park, but the relationship between Hana and Taro was just so moving!

This book was different from other World War II books. First, it focused on the war in the Pacific. I do not know too many books that focused on the Pacific without being on the frontlines. Second, this was entirely from the
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a DRC of this title for review. All opinions are my own.

This was a slow start for me, but I ended up being sucked into this atmospheric story of a kamikaze pilot and the girl he meets before he sets off on what should be his last flight. This is a wonderful addition to the WWII literature that is currently available since most of that is saturated with the German and European points of view (the Holocaust, the Americans, D-Day,
I got this as an ARC from my school library, which is cool. Never received an ARC before! I'm not a big historical fiction person (ironic? Or fitting?), and I'm over all the WWII novels, but this was intriguing as it took place in Japan. Even knowing Japanese mentality, this book humanized and made some of the realities of Japanese militarism more...real. The writing itself is good. I felt more of a historical interest than an attachment to the characters or love story so it wasn't the gut
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
An extremely different look at WWII. The story relates between Hana, a Japanese teenager, and Taro, a young Japanese pilot. You get the story of their younger years leading up to their meeting. Instead of going to school, Hana and other girls tend to the young pilots in training. They wash and mend clothes, serve them food, and clean their dorms. Then they was goodbye as the young pilots fly away. Taro is in the training program, at the time when the program turns to the kamikaze death flights. ...more
Ginette Rossi
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eva Grade 6

The novel, "The Blossom and the Firefly" by Sherri L. Smith, expertly encompasses the beauty and terror that comes with hoping. The book is about a love story between kamikaze pilot Taro, and an introspective woman named Hana. I loved the writing in this book as well as the overall heart-breaking story. The novel is set in Japan during World War II, which made me realize that there are more than two sides to a war, and certainly more that two stories. I would recommend this book to
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Sherri L. Smith is the award-winning author of YA novels LUCY THE GIANT, SPARROW, HOT SOUR SALTY SWEET, FLYGIRL and ORLEANS. In October 2015, she makes her middle grade debut with THE TOYMAKERS APPRENTICE from G.P. Putnam and Sons for Penguin Random House.

Sherri has worked in film, animation, comic books and construction. Her books have been listed as Amelia Bloomer, American Library Association

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