The Last Paper Crane by Kerry Drewery
I was sent a copy of this book by Hot Key Books, but as tends to be the case, it was already on my preorders list. So the fact that this came from the publishers in the hopes of a review, doesn’t affect the review at all.
We start with Mizuki, the granddaughter of a survivor of the Hiroshima bomb. She is meant to take care of her grandfather who is old and doesn’t believe that words can be of hope or help anymore, so to her he seems cranky, but he sits down and starts telling her his story.
Ichiro was a young man on a day off, spending it with his friend Hiro, when suddenly the world changed in a drastic way. He starts telling us about how he woke up after the bomb dropped and the disorientation, the chaos, everything feels so intense as you read about it. Then he manages to find Hiro, and they set off to look for Hiro’s little sister Keiko.
Thankfully Keiko is still alive, but they can see the destruction and devastation while they search for her, and Hiro is in really bad shape. However, Hiro makes a choice that leaves Ichiro with Keiko and a promise to take care of her. And he tries, but again, hard choices have to be made and he becomes separated from her.
He sets off on a desperate search for her, getting the hospital staff in Hiroshima and then in Tokyo to try to help him, however, it seems hopeless. Every place he visits, he leaves a paper crane with his details, since that was the last thing he left with Keiko before he lost her.
Ichiro, as an older man now, is still distraught that he couldn’t keep his promise and save Keiko. All he has is a note saying there are no records of her.
I have to say, while I read this, the combination of poetry and verse made it interesting and also set a clear difference between past and present and personality and the changes time has done to Ichiro. It was powerful and beautiful and amde me tear up a few times as I could feel as if I was with Ichiro through his journey, rather than reading an account of someone that this is happening to.
I even had to share with my husband because it just stuck with me so much and it left hope and wanting to be able to believe in hope and not giving up.
I can only recommend this story, and now I am myself intrigued about Kerry’s other works so may go check those out because the writing made this book work really well (the artwork was also a great help at the points where it was, which were minimal but they were well chosen).