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So Far from the Bamboo Grove
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So Far from the Bamboo Grove (Paperback)
by Yoko Kawashawa Watkins
(148 customer reviews)    
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Number of Reviews: 148
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79 of 107 people found the following review helpful:

This book should not be recommended by school teachers to be read by young students.., September 12, 2006
Reviewer:K. Cho (US) - See all my reviews
"The Koreans have established a group they call the anti-Japanes Communist party. Koreans were part of the Japanese Empire but hated the Japanese and hated the war." quote from page. 89
This book has a high risk of being misread by people who are not aware of the Korea-Japan history. Japan brutally "invaded" Korea. The author knows this. But she still describes Korea as if it is supposed to be part of Japan.
If you are not aware of the history, you would think "damn those Korean communists, why do they hate Japanse? What's wrong with them?"
"Netherland people have established a group they call anti-German Communist party. Netherland was part of the German Empire but hated the Germans and hated the war."
Would you want your kids who are not aware of the German invasion, to read this and think that Netherland people were wrong?

The book describes Koreans as cruel, barbarious people who tries to harm innocent Japanese people, who are described as the victims.
Come on!! Japanese were the invaders, and Koreans were the victims!! The hardships that she goes through is because of all the atrocities that Japanes has committed to Koreans!!

This is a well written book, but if it can form a misconception about history, it should not be recommended by school teachers to their students.

Especially, the Japanese still have not apologized for all the atrocities they have done to Koreans, Chinese, and other Asian countries.
At least Germans have apologized for what they've done.
I'm very sure there are much better books that can be recommended.

The author's father was a high official who worked in manchuria, where Unit 731 was using Koreans and Chinese people like lab mice to test their biological weapons.
Search Unit 731 in wikipedia if you don't know what I'm talking about. Search Asian Holocaust, for other atrocities that Japan has committed.

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18 of 94 people found the following review helpful:

Excellent for highschool readers, July 24, 2006
Reviewer:Oompa Loompa "one book at a time" (Hopkinton, Ma) - See all my reviews
So Far From the Bamboo Grove tells the story of a young Japanese girl that survives the horror of WWII. Although very well written, a lot of the material is not suitable for children under the age of 14. Graphic murder and deaths, along with brief descriptions of rape are layered throughout more than half of the book. Excellent story - just not kid friendly. Don't let the recommended age bracket fool you. Read the book before your child does and be prepared for lots of questions, tears and maybe a few nightmares. This book would have been much better suited for highschool and above.

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4 of 37 people found the following review helpful:

What?, April 30, 2006
A Kid's Review
I thought that this was a good book. However,the ending left me hanging in the breeze. The begining and middle, were great, but the ending stopped just suddenly, with no follow up. I would have included what happend to her father. All in all, good book, bad ending.

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16 of 82 people found the following review helpful:

One of my favorite books, January 13, 2006
A Kid's Review
A few days ago at school, we were told we would be reading this book. We are reading this book because we are actually going to meet the author. She will come to our school and we will get to ask her questions about the book. I thought I would hate this book, but boy was I wrong. I love this book and if you are trying to find a good book with lots of details I would definitely recomend it. This is a memmoir of Yoko's live during World War 2. It about how her mother, her sister, and her travel from their home in Nanam, North Korea to Seoul, South Korea. They are forced to go to Seoul because the Russians want to kill her and her family for her father's work for the goverment in Manchiria, China. To find out more about this book you have to read the book. I am sure you will love the book just as much as I did.

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17 of 75 people found the following review helpful:

Deeply moving . . . I Loved It!, November 27, 2005
A Kid's Review
Like many others, I read this book for school last year, and I found it wonderful. I also got to meet the author, Yoko Kawashima Watkins, who was an incredibly kind and sweet woman. Some people say that it is biased, but she's just telling it from her own perspective. If you want another perspective, to see the other side of the story, read The Year of Impossible Goodbyes. When you are done with Bamboo Grove, I highly suggest reading My Brother, My Sister and I, the sequel, which is connected, but isn't that much about war, and is even better that this one.

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18 of 67 people found the following review helpful:

Is this an instance of paying for the sins of the father?, September 21, 2005
Reviewer:Diane B. GOODPASTURE - See all my reviews
That one reviewer was correct in pointing out that the author was basically made to suffer because of Japan's wartime aggression and her fathers high rank in the Japanese army positioned in Manchuria. He also criticizes the author, who wrote her two memoires in the 80's, for not elaborating on her father's role as high ranking soldier, and subsequent position a POW in Manchuria. I lived in China for a year and am well of aware of Japan's Unit 731 and their Nazi human medical experiments in Manchuria, the Rape of Nanjing, the Korean comfort women, and American POWs starved and forced to slave for Mitsubishi.

Watkins was wrong to simply gloss over all of this, however, I don't believe that she as a pre-adolescent should have been held responsible for her father's actions. My father fought against the Japanese in WWII and, in all fairness, if he had been a POW I'm not sure I would have the same attitude. The two books are, afterall, a very personal story told in the first person point of view. In the beginning we see the author as a very whiny spoiled child. The author and her brother and sister then suffer numerous personal hardships, including the death of their mother. Her father is a POW and it's up to her two teenaged siblings to make tremedous sacrifices to educate and take care of her. We also witness some suffering of average Japanese people, not all of whom supported the war. On top of everything else the author becomes the victim of extreme bullying at her school. In spite of it all she becomes an excellent student and wins a scholarship. This is not as much a wartime memoire as it is about the perserverence of the human spirit.

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18 of 74 people found the following review helpful:

One of the best books I have ever read, March 30, 2005
Reviewer:Natalie Dodd "What do you think I should put in my signature?" (Cali, USA) - See all my reviews
For those of you who say this book is boring or that Yoko is saying Koreans are all bad and all Japanese are innocent--I must disagree. (OBVIOUSLY there are some good Koreans like the Kim family and some bad Japanese like the guys who drag women to the thicket and rape them, but THIS BOOK is from the perspective of a GOOD Japanese family!) Anyway, this is what I have to say:

I was assigned this book by my English teacher. At first I thought "AUGHHH, another book to read" but as soon as I finished the first few pages I couldn't put it down. I was only to read the first 10 pages the 1st night, but I read the whole thing. Believe me, I am not just absentmindedly saying "oh it's a great book" so I won't insult other reviewers...it really is a GREAT memoir of a Japanese family fleeing Korea in the midst of World War II. It also helps put things in perspective--after you have read this, if you have a bad hair day or something, instead of going "WAAAAHH" maybe you'll remember this book and how long it took them just to find a meal and what they went through. If I could, I would give this book ten stars. **********

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32 of 70 people found the following review helpful:

Good, but read Year of Impossible Goodbyes with it, December 9, 2004
Reviewer:A reader (Buffalo, NY) - See all my reviews
Watkins story is powerful and moving, but disturbing in that many who read it understand this as "the other side" of WWII. When Americans read about the Holocaust, we do not read about or sympathize with Nazi soldiers or their families who occupied Russia, Poland, France, etc. Watkins was a child caught in a horrible, violent conflict, but her family were part of an OCCUPYING army. Japan's reign of terror throughout Korea (and Asia) was brutal, genocidal and racially motivated. Read Choi's Year of Impossible Goodbyes for a Korean child's view of the Japanese occupation. For adult readers, an even more eye-opening view of the Japanese invasion of China read Chang's The Rape of Nanking. MILLIONS of Asian people were brutalized under the Japanese occupation of Asian countries in WWII. It is a sad fact that most people in the US are unaware of.

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14 of 64 people found the following review helpful:

A young girl's horrifying past that haunts her memory...., June 1, 2004
Reviewer:Stephanie Watson (Seoul, South Korea) - See all my reviews
well, its not that horrifying...i think she wrote this book just to get everything out of her. she probably wants to let it out (like writing in a diary about your day) and also just tell others of her life. to tell others that life can be better than digging in garbage cans, watching your mother die, suffering, getting injured, being seperated with your family members, etc. to tell us that we should be glad with the lives we have now and we must love and care while we can, while we live. her book is a lesson to all of us out here. we should appreciate our lives and what we have! I'll stop now. i sound like a preacher.<

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12 of 62 people found the following review helpful:

Good-bye Korea, hello Japan!, May 17, 2004
A Kid's Review
"The army wants to kill you especially," was the warning Captain Matsumura gave the frightened Kawashima family. Yoko, her mother, her sister Ko, and her brother Hideyo are forced to flee from their home during the life threatening World War 2. Unfortunately, Hideyo goes to an army factory to work before they run.
Frightened, the Japanese family takes a train to a faraway city, with no choice but to leave Hideyo behind. The 3 risk being shot by Korean soldiers on their journey of escape towards Japan. Suiside and blood flood the story with action and horrifying moments. Will the 3 survive the escape? Will they meet their father and Hideyo?
This book unfolds a true story of Yoko's life dodging Korean soldiers and making her way toward safety. In So Far From the Bamboo Grove, Yoko Kawashima tells her own life story. Flip through the pages to discover what happens to the Japanese family. But be careful; this book is a cruel and sorrow filled tale. Read it at your own risk.

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