After the shock of his father’s sudden death and the arrival of a grandfather he was taught to hate but never met, Evan must unravel a family mystery.
His father, Clifford, had been reading a peculiar, leather-bound memoir of a Japanese soldier who was marooned on an island during World War II. An accompanying letter suggests that it’s somehow connected to Evan’s grandfather Griff, a military man with “steel in [his] backbone.” Evan knows that his father never got along with Griff, whose very presence irritates Evan as well, especially when he calls him “soldier.” Not wanting to reveal anything to Griff, Evan starts to read Isamu Oshiro’s memoir and finds himself mesmerized by the haunting, sad journal addressed to Isamu’s fiancee. This book within a book, with its monsters, ghost children, and mysterious glimpses of the future, is as tightly written as Evan’s modern-day story. Evan’s resistance to his grandfather, colored by his father’s poor relationship with him, slowly adjusts the deeper he gets into Isamu’s memoir. Dual stories of strength and resilience illuminate the effects that war has on individuals and on father-son relationships, effects that stretch in unexpected ways across generations as Evan and Griff make their ways toward a truce.
An accomplished wordsmith, Wynne-Jones achieves an extraordinary feat: he illuminates the hidden depths of personalities and families through a mesmerizing blend of realism and magic. (Fiction. 13-17)