This post contains affiliate links.  As the years pass and 1941 and 1945 get further from our collective memory, numbing ourselves to the tragedies that happened in World War II becomes a bit easier. While I knew my great uncles fought in World War II, my kids’ generation will not grow up knowing anyone who was actually in the war.  However, a new book by Lois Lowry, On the Horizon, brings to life the people who fought in the war and were affected or list their lives because of it.

On the Horizon by Lois Lowry

About On the Horizon by Lois Lowry

As part of our Japanese study, we read On the Horizon. What a beautiful, painful book to read. Written completely in poetry, Lowry first writes about the soldiers on The Arizona that perished in the Pearl Harbor attack. Lowry herself was living in Hawaii during that time, though she was only a toddler.

Then, the next section of the book focuses on some of the 80,000 people in Japan who lost their lives in the bombing of Hiroshima. The most poignant is about a four year old boy who was riding his little red tricycle when the bomb was dropped.

The next section is when Lowry herself, as an 11 year old, lives in Japan when her father’s work takes him there.  It also includes a section when she’s older and reflects on what has happened and her role in history.  In a poem named “Now” she writes,

I stand beside Japanese tourists
looking down at the Arizona.
They look stricken.  They bow.
Their bows are deep.

From the dark split hull below,
oil still bubbles to the surface
as if she breathes.
As if asleep.

In Hiroshima,
at the memorial there,
in front of the blackened tricycle,
I too bow.  I weep.

My Thoughts on the Book

This is a beautiful book that brought me to tears several times. It is marketed as being for ages 10 to 12, but truly this book is for everyone ages 10 and older.

Your heart will break reading it and thinking about the tragedy of war and all the innocent victims.  However, in the end, Lowry offers hope that we continue to reach across the divide of that terrible time and form friendships.  She writes of a Japanese friend she makes later in life in the poem, “Tomodachi”

We could not be friends.  Not then.  Not yet.
Until the cloud dispersed and cleared,
we needed time to mend, forget.
We could not be friends.  Not then.  Not yet.
Till years had passed, until we met
and understood the things we’d feard,
we could not be friends.  Not then.  Not yet.
Until the cloud dispersed and cleared.

I give On the Horizon by Lois Lowry 5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale, though I would give it even higher.  This should be required reading in high school.  An excellent book.

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