Thursday, December 07, 2006
Today marks the 65th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, in which 2,335 servicemen and 68 civilians were killed. While we have several nonfiction books about the attack, I'd like to tell you about a short novel I just read by Harry Mazer.
Adam is the son of a navy lieutenant stationed on the USS Arizona at the Harbor. It's 1941, and World War II has been raging for several years. He hasn't had a great start at his new school in Hawaii. It's not easy being a military kid and having to change schools so often, but Adam's new school is different. For one thing, his fellow classmates are not kids in military families. Secondly, the kids are either native Hawaiians or Japanese. He's the only white kid in his class, and they call him haole, which means "foreign" or "foreigner" in Hawaiian. And when he finally makes friend with a classmate, Davi, his father forbids the friendship because Davi is Japanese.
Adam is torn between obeying his very strict father and keeping his friendship with Davi. On Dec 7, Adam, Davi, and another friend sneak out to go fishing in the Harbor, where they witness the attack. And Adam knows his father is on the USS Arizona. The boys are caught up in the hysteria, confusion, and grief that follow the attack.
A Boy at War is a short read-just 104 pages, including an afterword by the author. But it's a book that stays with you. You understand the strictness of Adam's family life, his difficulty at school, and his confusion about his friendship with Davi. As you can expect, the book is graphic in some parts, and the prejudice that existed at the time is very apparent. Read the true accounts of Pearl Harbor, but don't miss this excellent short novel by Harry Mazer
Read and listen to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Pearl Harbor address to the nation.
National Geographic has an excellent site about Pearl Harbor.
The USS Arizona