Lenni Reviews: Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms by Fumiyo Kouno

Towards the tail end of WWII, the US made the decision to drop nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As you can imagine, it changed the course of history for the entire world. Any history class will teach you the political and military implications of such an event but what about the day to day lives of the survivors? There are many tales, including the groundbreaking Barefoot Gen by Keiji Nakazawa. Unlike the gritty realism in Nakazawa’s work, Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms takes us ten years later to the lives of ordinary citizens and how the end of the war affected them.

First we meet a young woman named Minami Hirano, a young woman living in Hiroshima. She goes about her everyday life not wanting to think about the bomb, why she survived, and how it has changed her. Then we meet Nanami Ishikawa and follow her has she visits her friends in the hospital as a young girl, then go back to visit Hiroshima when she’s grown to deal with not only her father's memories, but her own.

I did enjoy this book. The dichotomy between the light and breezy art style and the very serious subject matter (warning: you may tear up) tugs at your heartstrings. Despite the melancholy, the book ends with a feeling of hope that will make you smile. The book is a poignant sigh you can hold in your hands; calm, painful, but beautiful and I highly recommend picking this book up.