#FridayBookShare – Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms

#FridayBookShare is an excellent way for book lovers (like myself) to share what we’re all reading.  It was created by Shelley Wilson and follows a set of questions, with the first letter of each spelling out the word Friday.  Then, as it’s posted on a Friday, it’s known as Friday Book Share.

As I’m an avid reader I’m thrilled to have found Friday Book Share, it’s such a good way to share what I’ve been reading and interact with others about books.

Here’s my latest post,  Barbed wire and Cherry Blossoms by Anita Heiss

The instructions are quite simple-

07 _ 10 _ 2014 (4)

Here’s my #8 post: Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms by Anita Heiss – this is our first book club book for the year so it will be interesting to get together with our group and chat about the various characters and issues raised.

First line/paragraph:

Prologue: 5 August 1944- Hiroshi is wide awake and waiting when the bugle sounds across the camp at two a.m. Not long after, a couple of gunshots are fired by a guard.  It’s time to honour his Japanese heritage and no longer bring shame on his family.  It’s time to run with his countrymen and break free from the confines that have given him both refuge and grief over the last twelve months.

Chapter 1: Four Aboriginal men who look older than their years sit around a small wooden table in mismatched chairs.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb: 

5 August 1944 – Over 1000 Japanese soldiers break out of the No.12 Prisoner of War compound on the fringes of Cowra.  In the carnage, hundreds are killed, many are recaptured, and some take their own lives rather than suffer the humiliation of ongoing defeat.

But one soldier, Hiroshi, manages to escape.

At nearby Erambie Station, an Aboriginal mission, Banjo Williams, father of five and proud man of his community, discovers Hiroshi, distraught and on the run.  Unlike most of the townsfolk who dislike and distrust the Japanese, the people of Erambie choose compassion and offer Hiroshi refuge.  Mary, Banjo’s daughter, is intrigued by the softly spoken stranger, and charged with his care.

For the community, life at Erambie is one of restriction and exclusion – living under Acts of Protection and Assimilation, and always under the ruthless eye of the mission Manager.  On top of wartime hardships, families live without basic rights.

Love blossoms between Mary and Hiroshi, and they  each dream of a future together.  But how long can Hiroshi be hidden safely and their bond kept a secret?

A story about a love that transcends all boundaries, from one of Australia’s best loved authors.

Introduce the main character using only three words – Hiroshi is Japanese, ashamed, POW. Mary is Aboriginal, young, kind

Delightful design

barbed wire and cherry blossoms

Audience appeal:   This book would appeal to those who enjoy reading historical fiction, fiction, romance, Aboriginal history, war stories, Australian stories.

Your favourite line/scene: Mary crosses the mission to the Manager’s house.  It’s a blue-sky day but the cold wind stings her face. She had some porridge but it wasn’t enough to warm her properly. She sees a magpie and stops in her tracks.  She recalls the saying that Uncle Kevin has taught her, has taught them all: One for sorrow, two for joy, three for girls. four for boys, five for silver, six for gold, seven for stories that have never been told. 

She knows she has to see another magpie quickly so that there is joy, not sorrow.

Mary finds out that a neighbours baby girl was stillborn that day and says out loud “One for sorrow”.  When she tells Hiroshi this story she tries to explain the Aboriginal ways of knowing things will happen, as some animals are messengers.  She is very upset after the baby’s funeral.

Hiroshi  then tells her a story about magpies in Japan. “In my country we have a story about magpies as well.  It is related to the Star Festival, the Tanabata, and it celebrates the meeting of two stars. It is the story of the Weaver Girl and the Cow Herder.  There is a weaving princess, she is the daughter of the sky, and her name is Orihime.  She weaves beautiful clothes, she worked very hard to weave and her father loved her work.  But then she was sad because she worked so hard and never had time to meet anyone, so her father arranged for her to meet a cow herder by the name of Hikobishi, who lived on the other side of the Amanogawa River from her. They fell in love instantly and married quickly. But Orihime stopped weaving and Hikobishi let his cows roam all over, so the weaving princess’s father separated them back to opposite sides of the river.  Orihime cried so much her father said that if she worked hard enough he would let the two meet on the seventh day of the seventh month.  But there was no bridge to cross for them to meet.  This is where the magpies come into it.  A flock of magpies knew that Orihime kept crying so they decided to use their wings to make a bridge across the river, and then she could cross and be with her love.  Legend has it that if the weather is bad on Tanabata, if there is too much rain, then the magpies won’t come and the two lovers must wait another year to see each other.

Mary is crying again by the end of the story.  “That is really beautiful” she says.  She cannot believe that a man who has been to war, who has been a prisoner in the camp in Cowra, who is living in the dark under the ground, is also capable of telling such a beautiful story.  Mary loves Hiroshi’s magpie story.  She imagines she and Hiroshi are like two magpies connecting worlds and wishes she could sit and listen to his stories all night.  Mary knows Hiroshi has been through so many terrible things and yet he knew just what to say to make her feel better.

I really enjoyed this book with its history, stories and discussion of cultural issues. The life of the families on the Aboriginal mission is seen to be not much better than those living in the POW camp and Hiroshi finds it difficult to understand how these Aboriginal people can be treated so badly in their own country.    The history of this event is quite well known but the way Anita Heiss tells the story, with compassion and the underlying tensions, makes it all the more interesting and enjoyable.  The two cultures are mixed throughout the book and Mary and Hiroshi learn so much from each other.

I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read this book.  Any other suggestions for books to read would be most appreciated.

I like reading so much I have created  a page on my blog that lists all the books I read throughout the year.   I started this project in 2014/2015 and enjoyed the process so much I kept going into 2016 and now into 2017.  It’s a great way for me to remember what I’ve read. I also try to write a brief comment about each book as well. Feel free to check out my reading pages and let me know if you have any recommendations.  I can also be found on Goodreads if you’d like to connect.

Here’s a link to my (slowly) growing number of posts for #FridayBookShare.  I was also featured on Shelley’s blog as a reader – here’s the post Reader Spot Meet Book reviewer Debbie Harris.  Feel free to join in!


6 Replies to “#FridayBookShare – Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms”

Let's keep the conversation going...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: