Hi-Dong Chai and Jana McBurney-Lin, the award-winning author of My Half of the Sky, turn their hands to a remarkable story of a family and country torn apart by outside forces. The time is 1942, the place is Japanese-occupied Seoul, Korea. Fifteen-year-old He-Seung is full of fire, ready to take on these Japanese…if only he could convince his father, a Christian minister more concerned with saving his flock in a time when Emperor-worship has become mandatory. Since occupation, the Japanese have eradicated the Korean language, names, even the country’s flower. Now they are seeking Korean boys as volunteers for their army. When his father is arrested by the Japanese, He-Seung must swallow his hatred of the enemy. Even harder, he must leave his mother and baby brother He-Dong to fend for themselves.
Based on a true story, Blossoms & Bayonets is suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period. The story lends an eyewitness perspective to events as they unfold. revealing an era of nuance and complexity. The result is a work that speaks volumes about how and why one war led to the next.McBurney-Lin crafts…an engaging and entertaining read from beginning to end.--Midwest Book ReviewImpossible to put down—or to forget—authors’ grippingly suspenseful and deeply affecting historical novel limns the lives of a Korean family under Japanese rule with astonishing grace and power. –Caroline Leavitt, bestselling author of Pictures of You.Riveting internal dialogue and narration interspersed with quotes from those running the war efforts on various fronts combine to compel the reader forward. I say compel rather than propel, because I had to read. I had to know how this family and those around them would fare in the end.—Keri Rojas, bookseller at Cornerstone Cottage, Hampton, IA.