Travel Book Review: Sadako and the thousand paper cranes

It’s easy to forget brutal histories and hurtful historical pasts in our quest as travel bloggers to share with our readers the beauty of the world. But that shouldn’t be the case. As a traveler, my aim is to not only show you how beautiful the world is but to also make you wiser. Learning while we travel is about appreciating the good but also paying attention to the not so good too.

It’s almost impossible to walk through the streets of Hiroshima without thinking about the disaster of 1945. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the final stages of World War II left a mass of destruction behind that changed the lives thousands of people. While endless stories remain untold, one story was – that of a little girl named Sadako Sasaki. To date, this story serves as a reminder of how deeply the people of Hiroshima were affected that fateful day.

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes is the story of a Japanese girl, Sadako Sasaki, who was living in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped in 1945. At the time, she was only two years old and while the bomb was dropped a mile away from her home, she survived without a scratch. Her immediate family survived as well except for her grandmother who, at the time, ran back to the house to fetch something. She was never seen again.

While Sadako remained a healthy child and excelled in school, almost ten years later she started becoming ill as was eventually diagnosed with leukemia. As her health continues to worsen, a friend tells her about an old Japanese legend which says that if you fold a thousand origami cranes, you will be granted one wish. Sadako soon sets out to fold a thousand paper cranes in her quest to obtain her one sacred wish.

With such an emotionally historical story, it’s hard to believe that this really is a children’s book. Whether you’ve been to Hiroshima or not, the story of Sadako Sasaki will resonate with any reader, young and old. Not only do we get to experience the aftermath of the atomic bomb together with Sadako and her family but we also learn of the effects that were felt for many years after the bomb was dropped. \

As a traveler, I have a soft spot for reading books about the cities I’ve visited, especially those that tell a story aimed at transporting the reader to a historic moment in time. Not only has the author (Eleanor Coerr) made me feel the need to learn more about this historical event but she has succeeded in telling the story of one little girl so well that it sent me searching for other stories of people directly affected by one of the world’s greatest tragedies.

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Hi World! I'm Shal - an environmental microbiologist, writer, teacher and artist from Durban, South Africa. I've spent the last two years traveling and teaching Chemistry and English to young kids in Asia. Life of Shal was founded as a way to share travel experiences, tips and other worldly magic with you! Join me on my journey!

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