Under the Broken Sky
A beautifully told middle-grade novel-in-verse about a Japanese orphan’s experience in occupied rural Manchuria during World War II.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, Mariko Nagai's Under the Broken Sky is powerful, poignant, and ultimately hopeful.

Under the Broken Sky Details

TitleUnder the Broken Sky
Author
ReleaseOct 15th, 2019
PublisherMacmillan
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Childrens, Middle Grade, Poetry, War, World War II

Under the Broken Sky Review

  • Yuko Shimizu
    January 1, 1970
    I am not familiar with this form of writing: a novel in a poetry form. It's a very fast read, but the experience is really thick and dense. I didn't realize how much one can say with such economical use of language. The book really takes you to Manchuria in 1945 and let you live through the hardships and emotions.
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  • Cassie Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    This book was really hard to read due to the severity of their lives, which is one reason why I was so determined to read more. The authors note is something I would want my students to read first to gain background knowledge before they start. This is a historical moment I knew absolutely nothing about going in to this story, but the conditions that they lived through were horrific. It’s definitely a story for upper MG and a book to discuss. I love that it was written in verse.
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  • Bonnie Grover
    January 1, 1970
    I had no idea about Manchuria during WWII. The author does a great job explaining the plight of refugees. Natsu is a twelve-year-old who is trying to keep a promise and hold her family together while seeking refuge from warn torn cities. This is an emotional novel told in verse. It is appropriate for middle and high school readers.
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  • ABC
    January 1, 1970
    This starts at the end of the the Pacific side of WW2. Japan is losing and a twelve-year-old Japanese girl must flee her "home" in China.I think it is advisable to read the afterword before reading the actual book. Japan should never have been in China (settling there, colonizing through force) to begin with...although that doesn't lessen my sympathy for the protagonist who is just a child.
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  • Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard
    January 1, 1970
    historical written in versesomeone summoned me?
  • Michelle Kidwell
    January 1, 1970
    Under the Broken Skyby Mariko NagaiMacmillan Children's Publishing GroupHenry Holt and Co. (BYR)Children's FictionPub Date 15 Oct 2019I am reviewing a copy of Under the Broken Sky through Macmillan Children's Publishing Group/Henry Holt and Co. (BYR):This beautifully told novel in verse tells us of twelve year old Natsu and the quiet farm life of her family in Manchuria near the Soviet Border, but when her parents are recruited into the Japanese Army Natsu and her little sister Cricket are left Under the Broken Skyby Mariko NagaiMacmillan Children's Publishing GroupHenry Holt and Co. (BYR)Children's FictionPub Date 15 Oct 2019I am reviewing a copy of Under the Broken Sky through Macmillan Children's Publishing Group/Henry Holt and Co. (BYR):This beautifully told novel in verse tells us of twelve year old Natsu and the quiet farm life of her family in Manchuria near the Soviet Border, but when her parents are recruited into the Japanese Army Natsu and her little sister Cricket are left Orphaned and destitute.In an act of desperation and in hopes of keeping Cricket Alive Natsu sells her sister to a Soviet Family but following the 1945 Soviet Occupation Natsu will do whatever she can to get her little sister back.Natsu’s Story is one of unthinkable, hunger, of starvation, of impossible decisions, of loosing everything to war, to loss, to their enemies. This story deals with loss, it deals with death, and children forced to grow up long before they should. It speaks of kids having to carry guns to school, simply to keep themselves safe, and it speaks of having to function on little or nothing to eat. It speaks of dead children, and having to take clothes off the bodies, growing numb to it all. Natsu is forced to watch helpless as her Auntie, the one adult taking care of her, grows sick and dies. I would recommend Under the Broken Sky to anyone who wants a realistic portrayal of what a Japanese child went through during World War 2!I give Under the Broken Sky five out of five stars!Happy Reading!
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  • Steph
    January 1, 1970
    I think this book is eye opening and well written, but I have a few major issues;The Goodreads summary uses the wrong name for Natsu’s sister (which should be Asa) - and then the bigger issue to me is that any write-up about the book I’ve seen - including the book’s jacket - summarizes the book as if the entire premise is something that actually doesn’t happen until 250 pages in (of the 280 pages total!) Since I had read that blurb, I basically spent the whole book waiting for “that” to happen I think this book is eye opening and well written, but I have a few major issues;The Goodreads summary uses the wrong name for Natsu’s sister (which should be Asa) - and then the bigger issue to me is that any write-up about the book I’ve seen - including the book’s jacket - summarizes the book as if the entire premise is something that actually doesn’t happen until 250 pages in (of the 280 pages total!) Since I had read that blurb, I basically spent the whole book waiting for “that” to happen and “that” situation ended up being over and done with within 30 pages. Not sure if that’s a publisher or editor error, but to me it’s a big thing. I would love for them to fix this because the book itself doesn’t need a misleading blurb to get readers’ attention, and it’s definitely a worthwhile story to add to your pile.
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  • Whitney
    January 1, 1970
    This was an important and also a quick read. I really enjoy free verse poetry, especially when it’s used for Historical Fiction, so I enjoyed this. My only real complaint is that the synopsis does not match the book AT ALL. 1.) I don’t know why they call her sister Cricket in the description. Her name is Asa. She is never once referred to as “Cricket”. It’s not even the English translation for the name Asa, which means “Morning” in Japanese apparently. 2.) This book is separated into 6 This was an important and also a quick read. I really enjoy free verse poetry, especially when it’s used for Historical Fiction, so I enjoyed this. My only real complaint is that the synopsis does not match the book AT ALL. 1.) I don’t know why they call her sister Cricket in the description. Her name is Asa. She is never once referred to as “Cricket”. It’s not even the English translation for the name Asa, which means “Morning” in Japanese apparently. 2.) This book is separated into 6 subsections. The part where Natsu is trying to get her sister back happens in part 6. It lasts about 40 pages. So 80% of the book is before the part that’s in the description. It’s still a great book I would highly recommend. But it’s more about Natsu and Asa’s journey across Manchuria and their attempts to stay alive than it is Natsu looking for her sister.
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  • Karen Maurer
    January 1, 1970
    Raise your hand if you knew Japan had settlements in Manchuria in the 1930s and 1940s. You DID? Good for you, history buff.Natsu lives with her Tochan (father) and her little sister Asa in a Japanese settlement in Manchuria. The year is 1945. Life is good and then, it is not. Tochan is called to serve the Emperor in the army.Soon, the whole settlement is threatened and they must choose between evacuating, capture or death.This book is the story of Natsu, Asa and the neighbor they call Auntie and Raise your hand if you knew Japan had settlements in Manchuria in the 1930s and 1940s. You DID? Good for you, history buff.Natsu lives with her Tochan (father) and her little sister Asa in a Japanese settlement in Manchuria. The year is 1945. Life is good and then, it is not. Tochan is called to serve the Emperor in the army.Soon, the whole settlement is threatened and they must choose between evacuating, capture or death.This book is the story of Natsu, Asa and the neighbor they call Auntie and their evacuation to what they hope will be safety. It is a tale of disillusionment, suffering, perseverance. Spoiler alert! I cried.I didn't give it 5 stars because it took me a while to get engaged. It's worth the effort.
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  • 図書館屋 Sharon the Librarian
    January 1, 1970
    This was a book that evoked powerful feelings as I read it. A novel, not a novel, written in free verse that reflected the thoughts and words of a young girl at the end of the war when the civilians living in Manchuria were trying to stay alive and get back to Japan. My current research is on a particular Japanese person living in Manchuria during the war, and I was so pleased to see an ad for this book but was curious about who would be writing in English about this time period with a Japanese This was a book that evoked powerful feelings as I read it. A novel, not a novel, written in free verse that reflected the thoughts and words of a young girl at the end of the war when the civilians living in Manchuria were trying to stay alive and get back to Japan. My current research is on a particular Japanese person living in Manchuria during the war, and I was so pleased to see an ad for this book but was curious about who would be writing in English about this time period with a Japanese name. She did a good job and I am happy to place this book on my read shelf with those by Yoko Kawashima Watkins.
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  • Katie Reilley
    January 1, 1970
    This upper MG/YA novel in verse was a difficult (yet very important) read for me personally. I was unaware of this part of history surrounding World War Two, and the plight of the refugees definitely took an emotional toll. Twelve year old Natsu, her father, and younger sister Cricket live a quiet life on a farm in occupied Manchuria. When her father is recruited by the Japanese army, Natsu makes a promise to keep her sister safe. The sisters are forced to leave their home, and in desperation This upper MG/YA novel in verse was a difficult (yet very important) read for me personally. I was unaware of this part of history surrounding World War Two, and the plight of the refugees definitely took an emotional toll. Twelve year old Natsu, her father, and younger sister Cricket live a quiet life on a farm in occupied Manchuria. When her father is recruited by the Japanese army, Natsu makes a promise to keep her sister safe. The sisters are forced to leave their home, and in desperation Natsu is forced to make a decision that no one should ever have to make. The author’s note is a must read. Themes of family and hope.
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  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    : A non-review in three reactionsFirst third: "Oh man please don't go full Grave of the Fireflies please don't --"Middle third: "Aw jeez those poor kids I still hope this doesn't go full Grave of the Fireflies"Last third: (view spoiler)["Oh god oh man here we go it's gonna -- oh okay but that's still rough sorry kids" (hide spoiler)]this book was SO GOOD and now i need to find more Mariko Nagai to readalso i'm getting ahead of myself but this has one of my favorite covers of the year
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  • Dyosse Skye
    January 1, 1970
    This was very insightful for a part of history I never knew about: life in a settlement in China of the Japanese empire during and after WW2. The imagery and events were very gripping, and the characters broke my heart. The only downside to this book is the poetry aspect?? Some verses just flowed very weirdly and there were quite a few fillers. The ending I found a bit weak as well.My favourite verses:We throw the portraitof the Emperor into the fireto melt the ice so we can drink the water, so This was very insightful for a part of history I never knew about: life in a settlement in China of the Japanese empire during and after WW2. The imagery and events were very gripping, and the characters broke my heart. The only downside to this book is the poetry aspect?? Some verses just flowed very weirdly and there were quite a few fillers. The ending I found a bit weak as well.My favourite verses:We throw the portraitof the Emperor into the fireto melt the ice so we can drink the water, so we can warm ourselves. At least he's good for something, finally.
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  • Shauna Yusko
    January 1, 1970
    Pair with many current fiction and nonfiction refugee stories. Little represented story in yalit.Readers would be best served by discussion of the time period and a map if they are unfamiliar with the location or shifting boundaries during war. Character age is 12, but this is not for elementary. Might even border on the “adult book with a young narrator.”
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    Hoo boy, this is a tough read. I didn't know much about this particular bit of world history, and I imagine a lot of children don't either, so this book will be educational. The story is sad and gripping - you want to see the girls survive and succeed. The verse makes it a quicker read, but because the topics are so heavy, it doesn't read as quickly as other verse novels have.
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  • Jill Ramig
    January 1, 1970
    Natsu lives with her dad and sister in Manchuria near the Soviet Union border. Her dad gets drafted into the Japanese Army. Natsu and her sister are forced to run for their lives as the war reaches her village. With a promise to return to Japan Natsu faces unimaginable hardship. Novel-in-Verse. Part of WWII we never hear about. @marikonagai2012 #bookexcursion
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  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    Although I knew nothing of Manchuria around the time of WWII, I was pulled further and further into what is, after all, an experience repeated across millennia and across the globe. Natsu’s love for her sister is fierce. Against all odds she keeps the promise she made to her father to keep Asa safe. This story is perhaps most appropriate for upper middle grade readers.
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  • Kerrie
    January 1, 1970
    Told in verse by a twelve-year-old girl, we learn about Manchuria just prior to and after WWII. The narrator was able to show us emotion and events in such a unique way. I learned new WWII information about Manchuria and the trials people endured.
  • Raven Black
    January 1, 1970
    The things one does to survive is not always pretty, but you do it. Historically based. Afterwards gives the factual information as the story took modern voiced prose poetry to yell the journey of two sisters.
  • Hoover Public Library Kids and Teens
    January 1, 1970
    "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." [from School Library Journal]
  • Ms. Yingling
    January 1, 1970
    E ARC from NetgalleyDid not meet the needs of my collection at this time. Since this is an unknown period of history for most of my students, there needs to be more details than the verse format allows.
  • Shae
    January 1, 1970
    Natsu’s story will leave a lasting impression. You get a glimpse into what it means to seek refuge from war torn cities. This will pull at your heart strings.
  • Ann
    January 1, 1970
    This was a powerful book told in verse that makes the reader think about what it means to survive in an environment that does not want you.
  • Janis Kay
    January 1, 1970
    4.5-5 StarsThis was really good! The prose was gripping and powerful while really capturing the mindset of a 12 year old:) More thoughts later!
  • Taryn
    January 1, 1970
    The writing style was new for me and I wasn't a big fan. However, the story is good.
  • Crystal
    January 1, 1970
    Review Copy: Digital ARC via Netgalley.This is a wonderfully told story of survival during a very difficult time. Like many people growing up in the U.S., history has been very internally focused. WWII information for me was usually very focused on how the U.S. or Europe was involved.Japan had colonized many places including Manchuria. This story brings that time period to life. It also lets us see that people have been fleeing for their lives from many places for a very long time. Natsu is Review Copy: Digital ARC via Netgalley.This is a wonderfully told story of survival during a very difficult time. Like many people growing up in the U.S., history has been very internally focused. WWII information for me was usually very focused on how the U.S. or Europe was involved.Japan had colonized many places including Manchuria. This story brings that time period to life. It also lets us see that people have been fleeing for their lives from many places for a very long time. Natsu is persistent and smart. She learns a lot about herself and what she is capable of during this challenging time. I'm partial to novels in verse and this is another one I really enjoyed. It's not an easy story to read. It's difficult to witness the suffering, but it's also a story of love and strength. I think it will be a way to open up peoples' ideas of the scope of the war. We call it a World War for a reason and so many more people and places were involved that I would have believed given what I learned in school.I'd recommend this for use in classrooms, but also as reading for anyone who enjoys historical fiction, novels in verse, or survival stories.
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