104 pages 3 hours read

Alan Gratz


Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2018

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Chapters 1-10Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 1, Chapter 1 Summary: “Hideki: The End: April 1, 1945”

The United States is invading the Japanese island of Okinawa. It is 2 o’ clock in the morning. Hideki Kaneshiro and his classmates are at a ceremony with the Governor of Okinawa, the school principal, Norio Kojima, and Lieutenant Colonel Sano of the Imperial Japanese Army. A US bomb suddenly falls and destroys Hideki’s school building. The children are shocked, but Sano calls them to return to their ranks rather than run to the bomb shelter.

Sano hands out two grenades to each child, marking they have ceremonially graduated from students to soldiers of the Blood and Iron Student Corps. The boys are instructed to use one grenade to kill American soldiers, who they have been warned are here to brutally murder their families. The other grenade should be used for themselves. When Hideki gets two metal grenades, Yoshio, an older bully, replaces them with the two ceramic grenades he was given. These grenades are more likely to crack and accidentally explode, and are harder to detonate.

Part 1, Chapter 2 Summary: “Ray: Operation Iceberg: April 1, 1945”

Private Ray Majors, a US Marine, looks toward Okinawa. He is being transported there in an amphibious troop carrier from one of many American ships in the harbor as part of “Operation Iceberg”—the invasion of Okinawa.