Written by Alan Gratz
Grenade takes place on Okinawa island and is focused around The Battle of Okinawa that began on April 1, 1945 and ended on June 22. Hideki is a native of the island and is recruited to join the Blood and Iron Student Corps in an attempt to prove to himself and his family that he is not a coward like his ancestor. On graduation day, Hideki is given two hand grenades with the instructions to use one to kill as many American soldiers as possible because they are vile monsters and use the other one to kill himself. Quickly Hideki realizes that the Japanese who are fighting against the Americans do not have a fighting chance and the battle he must engage in is survival. While attempting to locate his last living family member, Hideki learns the true meaning of courage and how to find the motivation to move on when all hope seems lost.
Ray on the other hand is a young American Marine who joined the war to avoid his abusive father who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from the first World War. Okinawa is Ray’s first battle, and he quickly learns the skills necessary to survive, including never using his last name “Major” on the battle field or else the Japanese will believe he is a high commanding officer and will shoot him with everything they have. While fighting for his life, Ray is encouraged to harden his heart so he will not be traumatized. Ray cannot do this but begins gathering pictures of dead soldiers and civilians he encounters as a way to honor their lives before the war.
This is an excellent book and filled with unexpected turns. It provides an accurate depiction of a battle that occurred at the end of World War II. Alan Gratz does his research and stays true to the time period, including his word choice. For example, he uses the term “Japs” instead of Japanese when American soldiers are talking about their enemy because it was a common term among soldiers in the war, though today it is an offensive term. It will also enlighten students who may be less familiar with the Pacific theaters of World War II.
Review by LeeAnne Grover, Hillside Elementary Library
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Interest Level: 4th-9th Grade
This story is being told by two soldiers from opposite sides. Hideki is from Okinawa. The Japanese military has taken over the island and has drafted the people to fight for them. Ray is an American and is trying to take back the island. The story tells of both soldiers and what they see in their day to day lives in war.It tells some of the worst things about war and what soldiers are made to do to stay alive.
Review by Sharon Viall, Jefferson Jr. High Library
Rating: ★★★✩✩ (3 stars)
Interest Level: 7th Grade to Adult
Written by Alan Gratz
Release Date: October 9, 2018
A review copy was provided by the publisher.