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Soul Lanterns

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The story of a how a young Japanese girl's understanding of the historic and tragic bombing of Hiroshima is transformed by a memorial lantern-floating ceremony.

Twelve-year-old Nozomi lives in the Japanese city of Hiroshima. She wasn't even born when the bombing of Hiroshima took place 25 years earlier. Every year Nozomi joins her family at the lantern-floating ceremony to honor those lost in the bombing. People write the names of their deceased loved ones along with messages of peace, on paper lanterns and set them afloat on the river. This year Nozomi realizes that her mother always releases one lantern with no name. She begins to ask questions, and when complicated stories of loss and loneliness unfold, Nozomi and her friends come up with a creative way to share their loved ones' experiences. By opening people's eyes to the struggles they all keep hidden, the project teaches the entire community new ways to show compassion.

176 pages, Library Binding

First published March 16, 2021

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About the author

Shaw Kuzki

1 book18 followers
Born in Hiroshima, SHAW KUZKI is a second generation A-bomb survivor. She received her MA from Sophia University and is the author of a number of books in Japan. Shaw Kuzki lives in Kamakura, Japan. *Soul Lanterns* is her first novel translated for U.S. readers.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 292 reviews
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,458 reviews2,406 followers
December 27, 2022
A middle grade historical fiction telling about the horrifying consequences of the Hiroshima bombing.

I would not recommend this book to everyone considering some of the triggering scenes described in the book.

But also, this book is quite important considering the fact that the effects left after such an inhuman act still lives on making generations after generations suffer.

I find the translation good but I feel the depth of the writing is missing. I don't know if it's the translation or the writing or the fact that this book is written for middle grades.

I wanted more of the characters especially of the main POV.

A good short read.
Profile Image for aly ☆彡 (hiatus).
346 reviews1,170 followers
September 9, 2022
Opposing to the usual Hiroshima narratives, Soul lantern hardly addresses Japan's actions during World War II but the devastating aftermath of the event.

"Many of those who survived physically were dead inside"

This book is a genuine insight into what transpired on August 6, 1945, and it gives readers a glimpse not just into Japan's rich cultural heritage but also into the private lives of those who understand the imperative need for peace better than others.

Simply said, this book is very touching and heartwarming narrated from Nazomi point of view, a 12 years old girl who attends the lantern-floating ritual to honour those who died in the explosion with her family.

I am definitely moved by each of the stories told, from the Jugoya comb to the Big Bones and Small Bones, leaving me either sad or emotional. There is no in-between. But the most impactful lesson I gather from this book is definitely that life is full of unexpected things and we shall never take things for granted. For one moment, you're laughing with that person, and the next moment, they're gone forever.

Even so, this book is beautifully expounded, and writing it from a children's perspective just made this more poignant and soul-stirring. And knowing that it was also written by a second-generation atomic bomb survivor added to the authenticity and uniqueness of the reading experience.

Wholeheartedly recommended!
Profile Image for La Crosse County Library.
572 reviews159 followers
January 5, 2022
Review originally published September 8, 2021

One of the most requested topics I get asked about in Youth Services is children’s books about WWII. Once kids start studying world history, that time period contains so many facets for them to be curious about, and thankfully there’s no shortage of book options. From perspectives of survivors to soldiers, the industrial surge and more, I’m grateful we have lots of nonfiction and fiction options for kids (and interested adults) to checkout.

One new one that recently came in offers a perspective I haven’t seen as many books cover. It’s a translated work by Shaw Kuzki called Soul Lanterns. Fun fact: the translator, Emily Balistrieri, was born in Wisconsin!

In Soul Lanterns, 12 year old Nozomi attends the lantern floating ceremony in the rebuilt city of Hiroshima with her family. She’s been many times before, but this year she begins to wonder what the ceremony really represents and why one lantern her mother lights has no name written inside.

Like Nozomi, the author, Shaw Kuzki, is a second generation survivor of the atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Using much of her own family’s experience, Kuzki shares the story of what happens to those left waiting. How do you begin to move forward? To rebuild? Through conversations with her family and her art teacher, Nozomi learns more of her history, of her family and her country. She understands how the lantern floating ceremony is a memorial, but also an ongoing reminder and call for peace.

Told in a first person narrative, Soul Lanterns is a social-emotional learning book about a very real part of our world history. The book would be best for fourth graders and up. The author includes a note in the back about the lasting effects the A-bomb had on the people of Hiroshima, as well as information about the lantern floating ceremony and its purpose.

It’s a soulful and history rich book that provides a very human interpretation to the act of war.

~Jess, Youth Services

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Profile Image for Schizanthus Nerd.
1,190 reviews248 followers
December 25, 2021
“There are still so many people looking for someone in Hiroshima.”
I’ve heard so many stories told by people who survived the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. The physical and mental impacts of surviving something so unimaginable. Stories of loved ones who vanished that day. Many accounts I’ve come across have been from adults who were children in 1945.

Written by a second generation survivor, this middle grade book takes place 25 years later. Nozomi, a twelve year old second generation survivor, attends the annual lantern floating ceremony, honouring loved ones who died as a result of the atomic bomb. Nozomi realises that one of the lanterns her mother releases each year doesn’t have a name written on it.

Between beginning to investigate who the person behind the nameless lantern is and a special art project, Nozomi and her friends discover that “even when you think you know someone, there are tons of things you have no idea about”.

This is a story of loss, grief and regret. It reminded me how important it is to truly appreciate our loved ones and to live in a way that minimises regret about the things we did and didn’t do or say.

I didn’t really connect with Nozomi and the story felt disjointed at times. Young readers may ask some tricky questions after finishing this book about war, death and the images, not over the top graphic but obviously still disturbing, of what happens to people’s bodies when they’re exposed to such catastrophic levels of radiation.
“So many people’s fates were changed by the flash. Many of those who survived physically were dead inside.”
I would hesitate recommending this book too widely. I’d be reading this one first so I could decide whether it was appropriate for my specific kid. It probably would have been too confronting for me and I wouldn’t have known how to manage the images that would have implanted themselves into my brain if I’d read this book when I was too young.

Although this book held such sadness, it also managed to hold beauty and hope, and I’m so glad I found it.

Content warnings include .

Blog - https://schizanthusnerd.com
Profile Image for biblio_mom (Aiza).
588 reviews213 followers
August 20, 2021
trigger warnings ⚠️ Death, bombings, PTSD.
💭 As much as I wanted other people to read this, I would also love to ask you not to if you are in a grieving phase or haven't really moved on from losing someone you loved so much (as a reviewer, I probably shouldn't said this. but mental health is important). I just lost my grandma a few months back. I do get triggered but thankfully it doesn't messed up with my head too much. But I can't contain my sadness and cried a few times while reading it (there's tear stains on the pages. slide left).

💭 It begins with the night at the Lantern Floating Ceremony when an old woman suddenly asked some weird questions to Nozomi like if she had a sister, or how old is her mother. Ever since an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima that robbed off 140k lives, first and second generation survivors have been waiting for their loved ones miraculously knocked on their doors. There will be strangers staring hard at people's faces hoping that that's their family members.

💭 Nozomi's mother releases a nameless lantern each year and she is curious to know. So she and her friends came up with brilliant way to share their loved ones experiences regarding the tragic events. Many very personal and heart-wrenching stories unfold.

💭 Reading this book reminds me again how selfishness, anger and unforgiving nature will only eventually brought endless regrets. Your loved ones might be getting on your nerves this morning, but who knows that's the last time you'll ever be seeing them again. Every story, not just between mom-child in this book, touched me.
Profile Image for Elizabeth☮ .
1,570 reviews11 followers
November 14, 2021
This follows three friends in Japan upon the twenty-fifth anniversary of the bomb being dropped on Hiroshima. Nozomi's family, along with her friends, take part in the tradition of releasing paper lanterns on the river in honor of those persons lost.

The students are then tasked with creating art pieces related to honoring the persons lost in Hiroshima. As they consider what to create, they ask those adults in their lives and in their community about what happened the day the bomb fell.

All in all, this is a great way to introduce young readers to the bombing of Hiroshima without graphic details. This work really highlights the long-lasting trauma those left behind suffer a generation later.
Profile Image for 【Afi】 (WhatAfiReads).
455 reviews338 followers
June 5, 2021
First of all, I would like to thank Times Reads for providing me a review copy of the book.

Disclaimers: All my reviews are my thoughts of the book and according to my personal preferences. Even though I had received a review copy, it does not affect my review and honest thoughts for the book.

Personal Ratings: 4.75/5🌟


This book had taken me into various depths of emotions while reading it. It was very heartbreaking but at the same time it shows the effects of war even after 25 years. Straightforward but also such a soulful read which grips your heart and leaves a print forever.

🛑TRIGGER WARNINGS: Death, War, Suicide, Anxiety, Depression, Grief, Post-War, Genocide, Trauma, PTSD, Medical Stuff, Vivid mentions of traumatic events🛑

Short Summary
Soul Lanterns tells the stories of various individuals that has been affected by the War and especially by the Hiroshima Bombing. Told from the perspective of a 12 year old girl called Nozomi, its a story that transcends through time. From stories of The Moon Viewing Comb to The Girl In The Picture Next to The Boy Who Died in Battle and to the Teacher and her Six Students, its a compilation of stories that makes the people of Hiroshima how they are now. An important read that shows the post-effects of war and how it is still affecting the people now, as if time had stood still for them.

This book had made me cried multiple times. The novel is also an Own-Voice story as the author is a second generation of the horrific event of Hiroshima, which makes the stories that were told from the perspective of a child more real and sorrowful.

The book was somewhat comforting and heartbreaking at the same time. It shows how war affects families for generations, as long as the memories of them living still lives in their hearts. Although the writing is short and straightforward and may lack of depth of story from each characters, its also understandable as this is a Middle Grade Story told from the perspective of a 12 year old child and her friends. The innocent view of the world and how perspective children can be to feelings were shown in this book and the stories told from different families of their experiences had made this one of the books that I will tear up everytime I read along the lines. The impacts of war that has been told from generations to generations is also told in this story and I think even as children, its important to instil these values from earlier on for them to know the impacts of a life-long horrific accident.

Nothing bad to say about the book but it was a heartfelt read that surpasses all ages. The after-effects of war is antagonising and I love that it also shows acceptance in this book. Acceptance of having our loved-ones taken away in a flash but also imagining them as souls that are happy to depart from this world.

Highly recommended. A short but very impactful story.
Profile Image for Shafira Indika.
232 reviews156 followers
November 6, 2022
Asliii bagus banget!! Gak nyesel nyomot buku ini sebagai bacaan buat hari Minggu sekaligus ga nyesel atas salah satu impulsive buying ini.

Selalu cinta sama historical fiction yang menggambarkan gimana orang-orang biasa terdampak sebuah peristiwa besar. Orang-orang biasa ini biasanya dimunculkan sebagai statistik aja padahal mereka juga manusia, sama kyk kita. Mereka juga punya kehidupan, punya mimpi, serta punya orang-orang tersayang. Mengutip dari buku ini, "The world is made up of little stories. Those modest daily lives, those lives that may seem insignificant, they give the world shape."

Peristiwa jatuhnya bom atom di Hiroshima dan Nagasaki selalu muncul di buku sejarah. Sejak SD aku familiar sama peristiwa itu tapi gak tertarik untuk menelisik lebih jauh. Kemudian aku ketemu peristiwa ini dibahas di komik Miiko (lupa volume berapa) dan jadi mellow sendiri bacanya😫 Beberapa tahun kemudian, aku dipertemukan sama buku ini.

Buku ini tipis, hanya 150an halaman dan font serta jarak antar barisnya cukup besar. Sangat bisa dilahap dalam 1-2 hari apalagi storytelling-nya oke. Bahasa Inggrisnya juga ga begitu sulit karena ini middle grade books hehe.

"Soul Lanterns" diceritakan dari sudut pandang Nozomi, seorang anak berusia 12 tahun yang setiap tahunnya ikut acara pelepasan lampion sebagai penghormatan untuk mereka yang tewas akibat bom atom di Hiroshima pada 6 Agustus 1945. Di buku ini, kita akan diajak Nozomi dan temen-temennya untuk menyelami kisah mereka yang terdampak bom mengerikan ini. Perlu diketahui, peristiwa ini gak hanya menewaskan puluhan ribu orang (approximately 70k), tapi juga meninggalkan mereka yang survive dengan paparan radiasi akibat bom ini. Paparan radiasi ini dapat memunculkan penyakit di kemudian hari. Mungkin belum tentu mereka yang kena, bisajadi generasi selanjutnya. Selain itu, tentunya mereka juga mengalami kesedihan dan kehilangan yang mendalam—ada seorang ibu yang akhirnya menyeburkan dirinya ke sungai, ada orangtua yang masih denial anaknya benar-benar pergi untuk selamanya, serta tentunya ada penyesalan karena pertemuan terakhir mereka ga berjalan dengan baik.

Banyak banget pesan yang berusaha disampaikan oleh buku ini, salah satunya adalah to have proper farewell with our beloved ones karena kita ga tau apakah kita bisa ketemu lagi dengan mereka dalam keadaan yang baik di hari esok maupun esoknya lagi. Jangan sampe misalnya kita pergi keluar rumah dalam kondisi lagi berantem sama keluarga—kalo bisa, selesaikan dulu soalnya we don't know what would happen next☺️

Overall, this book is such a great read! Very recommended!!
Profile Image for The Garden of Eden✨.
99 reviews32 followers
May 12, 2023
5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I broke down sobbing so many times while reading this. The emotional impact and weight is a testament to beautiful writing of Shaw Kuzki and the translation by Emily Balistrieri.

I can’t recommend this enough! It is incredibly short but the volume and weight of it demands to be acknowledged and felt.

This is the first book I’ve read that put the focus on Hiroshima and the devastation they were victims of at the blast of the atomic bomb and the hands of the US government. I’ve never read such wisdom from a middle grade novel before, and the emotional intelligence of the children is a marvel, but not exactly a surprise.

1000/10 everyone please read this!!
Profile Image for Atul_reads .
190 reviews12 followers
May 31, 2021
“We Japanese people, whether we like it or not, became aggressors in that miserable war. We also became victims. Both our crimes and our wounds are vast and profound. How on earth will we able to make up for these crimes, to heal these wounds? These are things we'll have to ask ourselves as long as we live. ” - Shaw Kuzki

SOUL LANTERN is a middle-grade book that tells the stories of those who were affected in the Hiroshima tragedy and how they brace the aftermath that left a mark in their heart forever. It's an extremely painful book to read but at the same time, I feel the message that SOUL LANTERN is trying to deliver is one that we can't take lightly and full of hope.

We mustn't forget the catastrophe and whatever tragedy happens to us. We shall keep in mind wherever we are, not to burdens us but as an act of reprimand that the past can take place all over again if we didn't learn from it. The effect is always unbearable. In the end, it's more about ‘losing’ rather than gaining. Don't you think so?

“One horrible act causes another, and that repetition is how war never ends." - Shaw Kuzki

The storytelling in this book is so vivid that I could feel all the sadness surrounded it. The voices of those who had lost their loved ones in that short period left an impact on my heart 💔. It says that about 70,000 were dead in that instant, 140,000 in total when you count those who were affected by the radiation. That was nightmarish.

It pains me that for us to realize that we are in the wrong, we had to go through a situation that shaken us first, that robs away the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, our people became the victims, only then we start to treasure life more. It's just, broke me into tears 😭. I can't believe that we have to come that far for us to put an end to the war.

My condolences go to all the families who suffered a loss of any kind. May you continue to be strong 🙏.
Thank you so much to Miss @putrifariza and @times.reads for the review copy.
Profile Image for Cara (Wilde Book Garden).
1,138 reviews63 followers
May 16, 2021
Relatively straightforward and yet incredibly effective is how I would describe both the writing style and this book overall.

And I don’t often make sweeping book recommendations but I honestly think every American should read this, though I think lots of other readers would get a lot out of it as well.

This book isn’t overly poetic (which based on other sections of the book, I think is a deliberate stylistic choice), it’s very short, and yet for me that did not in any way detract from the power of its ideas.

It feels pitifully inadequate to call this an exploration of grief, but it is - along with a determined hope for the future.

This is not a character-focused story exactly: the book is too short for that, so we see most of the characters in sketches and moments - but I think it is a people-focused story. It’s a book that takes huge events and tragedies and tells the small human stories within them, stories which are no less important or beautiful for being small or quiet or ordinary. To quote the novel itself, it’s a book that reminds us that “This world is made up of little stories.”

CW: Grief, war, bombing, cancer, animal death, loss of child, suicide, serious injuries
Profile Image for ReadBecca.
831 reviews85 followers
August 8, 2021
This is just a beautiful little translated work all about the long after effects of the bombing of Hiroshima, the struggle to grieve and move forward when no body is found. So much of this is about the collective empathy gained through storytelling, art and music.
Profile Image for Anandi Puritipati.
442 reviews35 followers
April 18, 2021
ARC provided by PRH international via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Soul Lanterns is a middlegrade novel set in the 1970s that talks about the effects the bombing of Hiroshima had on the people of the local community, and how it left scars so deep that even a quarter of a century down the line, people still felt the heat of the fire from the flash on their skin.

The story follows three children Nozomi, Kozo and Shun, who decide to center the art project for their middle-school's art festival around the events of the day of the Hiroshima bombing. They reach out to members of their families and also close members of their community they notice a kind of hollowness in and begin collecting the stories of those lost and those left behind to relay in the form of art.

I simply adored this book. As heartbreaking as it was to have to read about so much loss and grief, it was also heartwarming to see how the survivors of the bombing and their descendants took their grief and turned it into something beautiful, working towards making the world a safer place for their children.

Also, the fact that this story is told from the perspective of children who weren't born when the bombing happened was actually something that made this book that much more powerful. It showed how deep the damage it wrought ran and how those born in the aftermath of the war were marked by it as well.

I don't really know what else to say except that I think this can be a really impactful book for children! As important as it is to teach them about the bigger picture when it comes to history, they also need to know the smaller stories associated with tragedy of this kind. And a fictionalized account of those stories is not a perfect option, but it's definitely a place to start, to get them interested.

The only reason I'm rating this book a 4 instead of a 5 is that I felt like some of the more beautiful parts of the writing got lost in translation? There was a flow to it, but it wasn't perfect, and that took me out of the book in places. Overall, this is a really short, really powerful narrative and I totally recommend you check it out!

"The world is made up of little stories. Those modest daily lives, those lives that may seem insignificant, they give the world shape — that's what I believe."
Profile Image for Naadhira Zahari.
Author 2 books77 followers
May 8, 2021
Soul Lanterns is an important read that talks about the after effects of the bomb that hit Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. They use the term 'nyushi hibaku' and how it has impacted the survivors' lives through the years. The main narrative is a second-generation survivor, Nozomi who along with her classmates decided to do an art project and exhibition that depicts the lives of the survivors titled Hiroshima: Then and Now.

At first, I was really awed by the book cover. It's just so captivating and beautiful that I just couldn't stop staring at it. But the story too is a very interesting read that highlights on how the awful bombing has made such a big impact on the residents of Hiroshima.

It's also about discovering about others perspective and that not everything appears as it is on the surface when actually, there's just so much more to the story if only we stopped to listen. A mother losing a son, a man who lost a lover, parents who lost their daughters and so much more. What happened was absolutely terrible and we must learn from history in order to learn from the past and do better.

This book is unputdownable and its such a short yet meaningful story. This is the kind of book that I really want to read more about. It's utterly beautiful both inside and out. I really am so glad Delacorte Press decided to translate and publish it in English and arrived in my hands. It is an honour to read about an inspired story to all the souls lost to the bomb and my heart goes out to all the families who has lost their loved ones.
Profile Image for Vondra.
46 reviews33 followers
June 6, 2021
I haven’t seen much of #SoulLantern by Shaw Kuzki on Bookstagram, but if you do decide to pick up a middle grade book this year, let it be this one. This informative, heart-wrenching historical fiction is set 25 years after one of the most horrific days in history – the Hiroshima bombing – and it follows 12-year-old Nozomi and her exploration of what happened that very day on 6 August 1945.

This haunting and poignant short story touches on themes such as loss, grief, guilt, regrets, and healing, and discusses the impact on those left behind. It also offer readers a glimpse into the rich cultural history of Japan, and does an impeccable job of putting the reader at the scene.

I don’t have much to say for this one, other than I highly recommend it! What a stellar book. Thank you @times.reads for a copy of this stunning book! 🤍✨
Profile Image for Cherlynn | cherreading.
1,629 reviews800 followers
June 19, 2021
I'm actually surprised at how disappointing I found this. I had been expecting an emotional read but it turned out to be so underwhelming. The premise was great, but somehow I just feel like the story got lost in translation and therefore lacked the desired impact.

The book powerfully highlights the long-lasting devastation of the Hiroshima bombing and does not hold back on gruesome details. However, I didn't care for the protagonist or any of the characters. The only parts that struck a chord for me were some of the letters and recounting of past events.

The writing didn't hold me at all and was hard to follow. At times, I found myself blanking out even though this was a short read. I felt nothing upon finishing the book. How unfortunate, and I know I'm not the only one who felt this way (just look at the other 3-star reviews).
Profile Image for Vinícius Sgorla.
398 reviews18 followers
May 16, 2021

Um retrato muito triste e delicado sobre as experiências após a explosão da Bomba de Hiroshima, ainda mais por ser mais direcionado ao público infantojuvenil. Infelizmente a escrita não me agradou muito e a conexão com os personagens foi perdida tanto pela escrita, quanto pelo curto tamanho do livro.
Profile Image for Alison Rose.
835 reviews33 followers
March 21, 2023
All these GOP monsters who want to ban the teaching of actual history because they say it's not nice to make white kids feel bad about things the US has done in the past. You know who doesn't get a choice about "feeling bad" about those things? The damn victims, that's who.

This was a very affecting and accessible story about the aftermath of the US dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and a book I'd challenge people like a certain pompous Floridian ogre to read (if it's not beyond his grade level, that is). When we talk about the fact that this country has done horrific things in the past, that's not in the abstract. We did this, and we did it twice, and it decimated massive areas of land and killed thousands upon thousands in an instant, and thousands more in the months and years and decades after.

Seventy thousand people had died in an instant beneath the mushroom cloud, and the city was burned to the ground by a raging fire in the blink of an eye.

We did that, not because we had to, but because we chose to out of some kind of spite and false retribution. It is crucial that kids in this country understand the barbaric choices we've made so that they can hopefully avoid repeating such things in the future, and so that they can grow up to be empathetic and peace-seeking rather than isolationist and indifferent to the suffering of others.

I appreciated the choice to write this as a middle-grade book, because the more straightforward and stripped down writing one does for that demographic makes the urgency and reality of what happened and what must be atoned for so much clearer. But it's also written in a way that children around Nozomi's age can read it and learn something without being frightened. No one is saying we have to scare the shit out of kids to teach them things, but we cannot allow the truth to be glossed over simply because some people today don't want to own up to what their ancestors did. When the author wrote, regarding some who were grieving a loved one lost to the bomb, It seems like they're still waiting for her to come back, that gutted my soul and deservedly so.

I do think the story got a bit wayward in the middle of the book and wish it had remained a little more focused. But it was very poignantly told and a story I think should be included on all middle-grade aged classroom syllabi.
Profile Image for belle ☆ミ (thisbellereadstoo).
1,794 reviews143 followers
April 7, 2021
rep: japanese cast

trigger warning: loss of loved ones during war (recounted), mention of atomic bombings

i cried so hard while reading soul lanterns. this was such a beautiful yet haunting story about the bombing of Hiroshima during WWII. as nozomi and her friends prepare for their art festival, they decided on a theme that shared the stories of those who were lost in the war. this started when nozomi realised that her mother always released a white lantern with no name during the lantern-floating ceremony.

drawing inspiration from their teachers, neighbours and family members, nozomi and her friends discover the pain and loneliness and regrets within each story. after that day, it seemed like everyone in Hiroshima was waiting for someone to come back home. though knowing that their loved ones might not return, holding onto a shred of hope is the only way the living could continue surviving. in soul lanterns, the detrimental consequences of the atomic bombs on generations of Japanese living in Hiroshima was highlighted via A-bomb sickness and deformities due to radiation.

i'm so glad that this translation exists. it was heartbreaking.
Profile Image for Azu ♡.
202 reviews56 followers
April 1, 2021
A beautiful and heartbreaking short story that offers a deeper insight into the life after the bombing of Hiroshima and of its consequences. This is an important book that represents the grief and tragedy that has gone down in history.

The fact that the author is born in Hiroshima and is a 2nd generation survivor makes it so much more special.

PS- do check the TW's if you consider reading it.
Profile Image for Zoë ☆.
905 reviews178 followers
March 7, 2021
This was a very moving middle grade story that will teach kids (or anyone who will read it) in a beautiful way about a tragic part of history. The fact that the author is actually born in Hiroshima and is a second-generation atomic bomb survivor makes it even more special to read.

I have to admit I wasn’t that much of a fan of the writing somehow, but I can’t really place why. It could be because it’s translated, but I am not too sure about that.

Overall though, definitely worth picking up!
Profile Image for Ashley.
190 reviews7 followers
June 1, 2021
Wow, this MG historical fiction story is going to stay with me for a long time.
Profile Image for veepa.
93 reviews17 followers
Want to read
July 22, 2021
the cover and plot omg i’m so here for this
Profile Image for Yesha- Books Teacup and Reviews.
685 reviews133 followers
May 29, 2021
Many thanks to publisher for free e-copy via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Soul Lanterns was amazing translated Japanese middle grade historical fiction that revolved around three middle grade friends and their exploration of what happened on 6th Aug, 1945.

Story was about tragic historical event, its impact on people and their life quarter century later. It was about loss, grief, guilt, regrets, and healing journey of people.

Best part of the book was those stories kids discovered and how it moved and inspired them to create art that can express such huge grief and message.

This was fictionalised version but it still was very impactful. I also liked the way Japanese culture and geography of Hiroshima was written.

I loved the messages kids learned in this book and even for readers.

Overall, Soul Lanterns moving, impactful, and powerful fictional retelling of events of Hiroshima for middle grade readers.

It sure is little dark and there is no lighter way to tell such horrific event and I see text books don’t show such closure look on what people have gone through, so this was book represent it so well and I think 12 or 13+ readers can digest this.

Read full review on my book blog - https://booksteacupreviews.com/2021/0...
Profile Image for ftnrsnn.
165 reviews12 followers
July 24, 2021
I finished reading this book in May that I almost forgot to write a review for it. A great recommendation by Putri from Times Reads Soul Lanterns was a heartbreaking middle-grade debut, laced in between tragedy and hope with the backdrop of the Hiroshima bombing that took place in 1945. Told primarily from the perspective of a twelve-year-old girl, this book also reads like a compilation of short stories of the Hiroshima survivors. 

There’re so many new things I learnt from this novel, although aiming for younger readers, it definitely worked for any age group. Still, just a side note that this book was written in the voice of a pre-teen, so it might come up as a tad too simple with easy narrative. Nevertheless, I totally appreciated the historical aspects included, which I think were an excellent catalyst for discussion about the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima to its people. Every character featured here, to each moving with their own sorrowful and unforgettable tale that had tarnished their lives with scars of grief and remorse. 

Another great lesson you can learn from reading this novel, the connection with every character you meet in this book will help the readers (especially the younger) to develop empathy. A powerful story to represent the grief and sadness that had been deep in the hearts of those who had been affected by this horrible catastrophe and for us to take heed not to let this history repeat itself.

Thank you Times Reads for sending me a review copy of this book in return for an honest review. This book is available in all good bookstores Malaysia and Singapore.

Profile Image for Angele | adominiquereads.
741 reviews103 followers
May 14, 2021
"This world is made up of little stories. Those modest daily lives, those lives that may seem insignificant, they give the world shape - that's what I believe."

This book was actually a recommendation from a dear friend, and I decided to check it out because I'm always up for anything written during World War II - and oh boy was I so surprised. I may not have the widest experience when it comes to reading middle grade novels, but this was so much darker than I expected it to be.

Soul Lanterns is a middle grade historical fiction novel following Nozumi and her friends as they seek the real reason behind the annual Floating Lanterns ceremony, and they learn and discover first-hand the secrets and stories of the people close to them on what happened during the Hiroshima bombing 25 years prior. This is a book that portrays both the suffering and gruesome details of that dreaded event, but also showcased a great amount of hope and penance. Based from what I currently know, Japan has a certain perspective towards the country's role in the war, and it is totally different from the eyes of other people. Hence, I felt like Soul Lanterns broached that subject matter in a very different way, and made its readers see their side of the story.

The story and writing style definitely reads as middle grade, but the dark turn of events totally shocked me because I was expecting a more subtle and lighthearted approach. But as a reader, I really liked how this book focused on the victims of the bombing, because civilians are always going to be the greatest victims in any war, and how that will greatly affect their lives in the future if they do manage to survive that trauma. This book definitely nailed the purpose of wanting to preserve the stories of the victims' lost loved ones, but also constantly remind everyone in the succeeding generations that war will never be a solution to anything, and that even in the darkest times, there is still a spark of hope.

I highly encourage everyone to read this, because it will absolutely make you think and reconsider. And it doesn't also hurt that this is less than 200 pages of intimate and deep stories that you can devour in one sitting.
Profile Image for Sai theengineerisreading.
442 reviews69 followers
June 28, 2021
"This world is made up of little stories. Those modest daily lives, those lives that may seem insignificant, they give the world shape - that's what I believe. Don't you think that presenting small stories in details is precisely the most certain way to depict huge things?"

Soul Lanterns is definitely a crossover between unexpected gem and cover buy. And with all of it's 160-page glory, let me try to convince why you should read this novel.

First, Soul Lanterns is a middle grade historical fiction that sets the story twenty years after the world-changing Hiroshima bombing in August 6, 1945. Rarely do we see books that highlight important pieces in Asian war history that are written through the lens of children.

The main character Nozomi is a young talented Japanese kid who got curious about her mother's lanterns during the lantern floating ceremony. Given the fact that the effects of the bombing transcends to the next generations, Nozomi found herself asking about the other lantern (with no name written) her mother released on the river.

This lead Nozomi and several of her friends to seek answers to the people they know - the art history teacher, the quiet neighbor, the friend's sister. All of their adventures bring light to the picture they want to complete with the last pieces being from Nozomi's mother's story.

I also love how straightforward the novel is. Soul Lanterns has almost 170 pages but it managed to make an impact as one of my most unforgettable reads this year.

The exploration of grief across various characters from different walks of life is the main thing that made me finished this book in one sitting. The way Shaw Kuzki delivered the story in direct tone and sentences is an effective tool that made me love the voice of the characters in this one.

This book reminded me why I love reading!

Discovering new favorites is truly a satisfying feeling and with my Soul Lanterns experience, I am absolutely sure that I will never forget the past to make things right in the present and the future.

RATING: 4stars

[This is a newly translated work. Originally published as a Japanese novel.]
Profile Image for Megan.
639 reviews
October 23, 2021
Rating: 4.4/5.0

Wow. I honestly have no words. Soul Lanterns was gorgeous. It's the kind of book that won't be forgotten very easily, if ever, even though it was focused on those younger than I am.

No matter who it was intended for, it was very, very good. I admit I was a little nervous to see how a translated middle-grade book could effectively capture the horror and grief and wish for peace after the Hiroshima bombing, but even the first few pages made it very clear how wrong I was in my nerves.

For one, it read like a combination of memoirs from various survivors, wrapped up delicately by the child-like innocence in the narration. Because children are the ones narrating the story and jumping from memory to memory, it makes it easier to understand the aftermath and what it was like, without getting too war and horror-heavy. And unlike other stories, this one stayed out of what it was like during the war and was very careful to stay in one lane, which I thought was smart.

Soul Lanterns is about recovering from grief and loss and finding acceptance even 25 years later. It emphasizes the call for peace and how important it is, and that people shouldn't lose sight of it.

It felt a little choppy and it was hard to connect with the story, which I think is mostly because it's translated. I can't even imagine how powerful it is in its original translation.

The premise calls Soul Lanterns a "poignant" and "haunting" story, and I don't think anything describes it better than that. And the thing is, it can be read as painful or (probably in the second or third reread) as a little uplifting, I think. Yes, it hurts, and yes, it's awful about what happened and how they are feeling, but it is also about them letting that hurt go - while still remembering those they lost, of course.

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