Tuesday, August 2, 2016


I can't imagine how painful it would be to write the story of the bombing of Hiroshima. That would require some powerful motivation.

But Kathleen Burkinshaw, author of The Last Cherry Blossom was deeply motivated. On August 6, 1945 her own mother was in Hiroshima - two miles from the epicenter. Somehow she survived. I cannot imagine that either.  How does one emotionally survive such a trauma?
Kathleen Hilliker Burkinshaw with her mom.
“She lost so much that day," says Kathleen. "Yet she never lost her ability to love. Each person under that famous mushroom cloud was someone's mother, father, brother, sister, or child.”

While inspired by a true story, The Last Cherry Blossom is a fictional account. 

Twelve year-old Yuriko lives a life of physical comforts but on the emotional front, life isn't so easy. Being the daughter of a wealthy newspaperman sets her apart from her classmates.  She does, however, have one good friend. And she has a proud family heritage. At least that is what she's always believed.

Then, in the last year of WWII, secrets emerge that challenge her assumptions about family and personal identity. 

But challenges often hold hidden blessings and just when life couldn't possibly get any worse, when Hiroshima is bombed, and all hope seems lost, Yuriko's family secret becomes a blessing. 

Kathleen paints this painful historical landscape with just the right amount of detail. And thank goodness for the hope that colors the ending

I'm grateful to Kathleen, for daring to look this dark day in the face and for bringing it in story form to middle graders who otherwise may never know.

  • Back in May, when President Obama visited Hiroshima, Kathleen called into the Diane Rehm Show to give a personal reflection on the bombing.  You can hear her at this May 27 podcast.  It's a long show of course and worthy of listening to but if you want to skip to Kathleen's contribution she comes in right about 33:52
  • For a thorough review (no spoilers) of THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM visit Carol Baldwin's Blog. Carol always gives fabulous insights as well as quotes from whatever book she is reviewing.
  • Kathy's book is part of #MGGetsReal - an effort to get books about tough topics into the hands of Middle Graders.  There are giveaways involved so do check it out!


  1. Lovely blog, Joyce. Glad to see you back in the blogosphere and thanks for the tag back to my blog!

    1. Absolutely, Carol. I can't do it justice as you have so am happy to link to you.

  2. Just got my copy and can't wait to get to reading. Thanks for the post, Joyce.

  3. I just sat down to write about this very powerful book. I, too, can't imagine living through such a terrible experience.

    1. Alex, I will be so eager to read your take on this book.

  4. Joyce,
    It was great to read your post promoting THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM by Kathleen Burkinshaw. Gotta read it! I wish Kathleen and you much continued success with your writing!

  5. I've had my eye on reading The Last Cherry Blossom for a while, and my interest in it doubled after reading your praise for it! That cover is eye-catching and gorgeous too.