book review: Warriors in the crossfire
author: Nancy Bo Flood
date: Front Street Press; 2010
main character: Joseph
Joseph is a young man living on the island of Saipan during World War II. The names and religious practices tell us this Pacific Island has been visited by Christian missionaries ant it is now under Japanese control. Saipan has a strategic location in the Pacific and is about to become a battleground between the Japanese and the Americans. The people who live on the island are treated like pawns and are told little about the coming war and are left defenseless. Joseph knows he cannot passively let his family get caught up in this manipulation. He and his father know that by relying on traditional practices, they have a chance to survive and they will know who to trust. One of the most difficult decisions Joseph has in knowing who to trust is deciding how much to rely upon his cousin, Kento. Although their mothers are sisters, Kento’s father is Japanese and Kento is raised as if he were Japanese.
Warriors in the crossfire brings the reader into the midst of a little know battle from the perspective of those considered to be bystanders. We see not only the consequences of a military battle, but a subtle cultural battle as well. We see the Christians and Japanese changing the Rafalawash culture especially the changing role of women but we also see how traditional practices are important for survival. Flood details the brutality of war while holding back descriptions of what occurred under the Japanese. Historical notes provide authenticity to the story.
Nancy Bo Flood lived and worked in Malawi, Hawaii, Japan, Saipan and most recently on the Navajo Nation Reservation in Arizona. She works as a counselor, teacher and author. In addition to this story, Flood has also written collections of folklore from Micronesia, the Pacific Islands and the Polynesian islands which would be important multicultural additions to libraries.
ALA YALSA: 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults
Booklist Editor’s Choice 2010 for popular appeal and literary excellence
VOYA Magazine: Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers, Feb 2011 issue
school library copy