Review by Emma Bowles
One Thousand Paper Cranes tells the story of Sadako Sasaki who was just two years old when an atomic bomb was dropped on the city where she lived, Hiroshima. Ten years later she was diagnosed with leukaemia which had been caused by radiation exposure and she died less than a year after her diagnosis. Whilst she was in hospital Sadako learned of a legend that stated if a person could fold one thousand paper cranes, they would be granted a wish, so Sadako used any paper she could get her hands on to fold paper cranes hoping her wish would cure her leukaemia.
To me it felt like the book was split into three section. The first is a brief account of the end of World War Two and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The second is about the life of Sadako, her bravery and her strong personality. The third tells the uplifting story of how students from Sadako’s school and many other schools in Hiroshima and the surrounding area came together to raise money for a statue to commemorate Sadako and all of the other children who died as a result of the atomic bomb.
The style of the book is almost like a documentary as it focuses on the facts but still maintains a narrative storyline to keep the reader hooked throughout. For me, One Thousand Paper Cranes was an extremely fascinating book as I felt that, although we learn about the bombing of Hiroshima in our history lessons, we never truly learn about the profound impact it had on the world and the citizens of Hiroshima.
By focusing on just one person’s story, it allows the reader to truly understand the devastation of the attack on Hiroshima. Sadako was one of tens of thousands of children who died either immediately when the bomb exploded or as a result of radiation exposure, tens of thousands of families went through very similar experiences to Sadako’s family and tens of thousands of futures were lost. But, One Thousand Paper Cranes is not just about the sadness of the life lost, it is also a story about young people coming together.
One Thousand Paper cranes is such an important book to read as it’s true message is one of hope and peace. Sadako’s story and the Children’s Peace Statue are vital reminders of what Takayuki Ishii writes on the last page of the book “Peace must prevail.”