Wednesday, March 31, 2010

So Far From the Bamboo Grove by Yoko Kawashima Watkins

So Far From the Bamboo Grove by Yoko Kawashima Watkins was an assigned novel for class, and I can see why this was the case. Last week, I read a book that was similar to this one (but different characters). In this book, a young Japanese girl named Yoko faces a difficult journey with her mother and sister from Korea to Japan. When Japan lost control in Korea, things became very dangerous for she and her family. Throughout the book, they experience many traumatic events that eventually result in she and her sister living alone in Japan. Her mother dies once they arrive in Japan, she doesn't know if her father is dead or alive, and after being separated from her brother for months they are eventually reunited.This is an extremely brief summary, but I wanted to include it.
The main characters in this book are very well developed. I feel as though I was able to understand Yoko, her sister, and her mother very well. Although her brother was a main character, I was less familiar/interested in him. I was surprised that the author did not mention Yoko's father very much, and I would have liked to know more about him. For example, his whereabouts, occupation, etc. I feel as though there are many parts of this text that would be difficult to discuss with students (especially upper elementary and middle school students). Rape, death, sickness, violence, and many other difficult topics are spread throughout this book. I would feel slightly wary about approaching some parts of this book with a classroom of students. However, I feel that I enjoyed this book much more than the other text. It was fairly fast paced, and it did not seem to repeat itself. I truly felt as though a young girl was telling her story (the authors goal was accomplished, in my opinion). The emotions and actions of Yoko seemed to be how a typical child would respond in various situations.
I would suggest this book to individuals who enjoy books that are thought provoking and are based upon history. Although it was not my favorite book, I was able to enjoy reading it.

1 comment:

  1. This book is not worth reading because it was made for international political purposes, not for education. Most of the facts are distorted in this book:

    There were no North-Korean soldiers in 1945 (they existed after 3 years), and the location of where the author claims to have been when she was young did not have the right condition for bamboo trees to grow back then (Nanam). She also claims to have seen and heard bombs explode due to US air-force planes, but B-29s did not have fuel tanks large enough to fly all the way to Korea (nor were there ANY records of bombing in Korea at that time). Also, the United States ORDERED the Japanese soldiers occupying in Korea to be left ARMED until every Japanese civilians were escorted back to their homeland. Thus if Japanese civilians were REALLY raped, chances are, they were raped by their own people.

    So what do we have left from this novel? Just a fictional book that distorts history in a very ironic way (Considering the fact that the Japanese soldiers RAPED and MURDERED Korean women at wartime for pleasure. They actually had the nerves to call these women 'Comfort Girls'). The book title should be renamed as "So Far from History and the Truth"

    It's like Hitler claiming that he was tortured by the Jews in the Holocaust. Sounds like a nice book for young kids and adults eh?