cover image Warriors in the Crossfire

Warriors in the Crossfire

Nancy Bo Flood. Boyds Mills/Front Street, $17.95 (142pp) ISBN 978-1-59078-661-1

Flood’s (Sand to Stone and Back Again ) first novel recounts a story of a forbidden friendship on the Japanese island of Saipan during WWII. Thirteen-year-old cousins Kento and Joseph have been friends forever, but are divided by class when the war intensifies. Kento is half Japanese, while Joseph is one of the natives, who are suspected of being spies for the Americans. Restrictions and curfews multiply for the islanders, but the boys figure out a way to remain friends in secret, as Joseph shares survival skills with Kento, who teaches him kanji in return. “The Japanese may have taken our stores, our schools, even our lands, but they could not take this,” Joseph affirms. When the Americans invade, Joseph’s father tasks him with keeping his mother, sister, and nephew safe, and Joseph wonders if he has risked his family’s safety by trusting Kento. Drawing from true events in Saipan’s tragic history, Flood’s concise and passionate fictionalized account raises myriad complicated questions about friendship, family, and honor. Through Joseph’s eyes, readers experience the pain of war and loss firsthand. Ages 11–14. (Apr.)