So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Barefoot Gen, Volume 9: Breaking Down Borders

Barefoot Gen, Volume 9: Breaking Down Borders by Keiji Nakazawa

The Barefoot Gen series documents the life of young Gen Nakaoka of Hiroshima starting when he is six years old in the summer of 1945 when the USA dropped an atomic bomb on the city. Volume 9 takes place at the end of 1950 and through 1951. Gen is now 12 years old, and as the book opens the city has condemned the small hut that his family had called home. The rest of his family has either died from the blast or radiation sickness, or moved out. Now homeless, Gen decides to move in with the group of orphans he has befriended who have their own hut. While he is happy to be near the girl Natsue that he is fond of, her radiation sickness is now in its final stages and she is dying. After Natsue dies he is heartbroken but the spirit to live on through any adversity that his father instilled in him keeps him from despair.

The same spirit that has helped him and all who come in contact with him as they struggle out of the hellish remains of the atomic destruction of their city and their lives, now helps an artist in despair. The artist returns the favor by teaching Gen how to draw. The artist tells Gen "Art Has No Borders" which inspires him to learn the universal language of art so that he can break down the national barriers that led to the war and the destruction of his beloved city. As the book ends he dreams of a peaceful world free of war where all the countries are connected by rainbow bridges that people can cross freely and be friends.

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