Cherry Blossoms in Twilight is a very picturesque view into the Japanese culture during the early part of the 20th century. Yaeko Sugama reminisces about her childhood with simplicity and clarity. This short 98-page book covers her story in highlights from the age of five to when she becomes a grandmother.
Her story begins with her birth in 1925. The next two chapter are vivid images of a young Japanese girl making her way through childhood. Not only does she chronicle the joys and pain of her childhood but also the expectations that were placed on her. She speaks about the festivals and celebrations as well as the games that they used to play. Be aware that at this point in her life she is not a Christian and speaks in general terms about the Obon Festival, which is an important Buddhist celebration for the dead.
The next two chapters are about World War II and what life was like during and after the war in Japan. I would caution you that some of the images that she presents here are not suitable for younger children.
The last part of the book is about meeting and marring an American, moving to America, and traveling between two homes. (Japan and America). She briefly talks about becoming a Christian but doesn't include much detail. The two appendixes have traditional Japanese children's songs, and a few photographs that were taken during the 1950s.
This target age range for this book is about 7-13. I personally enjoyed reading this book, as did my 10-year-old daughter. Viewing World War II through the eyes of a Japanese child was particularly interesting, as long as you keep in mind that a few of the descriptions would be too graphic for a seven or eight-year-old child.
There are charcoal sketches throughout the book, making Cherry
Blossoms in Twilight not only interesting to read but beautiful as well.