World War II has always been heralded as one of my favorite periods of historical fiction. Author Iris Yang accommodated me with her well-written narrative that cried out to the ravages that shook the war-torn country of China. Sadly, hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians were murdered at the hands of the invading Japanese. There were two main protagonists; they were both well-drawn. My heart sank just a little deeper with every passing scene. At times the anguish was almost unbearable. It was all I could do to keep my composure to the chilling end. I recommend this heartfelt read with no hesitation to any admirer of historical fiction.
Gunshots rang out as frightened refugees scrambled to board the last train destined to leave Nanking. It never left the depot; neither did some of the passengers. The Imperial forces of Japan had begun their deadly invasion. Anarchy ran rampant through the streets. Jasmine barely made it home to find that her hopes had been dashed; her parents had been murdered. My stomach churned.
The encroaching enemy showed no mercy. Men, women and children were mercilessly slaughtered. The blood-soaked streets were littered with bodies. Humanity had taken a backseat. Jasmine escaped the carnage of Nanking by the skin of her teeth. I felt nothing but pity for the human race.
By sheer luck, she reunited with her cousins Daisy and fighter pilot, Birch. Luckily, she found refuge with their parents, the Bai’s, for the next few years. The shelling, the needless killing, it never stopped. The endless heartaches took me on an emotional roller coaster ride.
In Western Yunnan Province during the summer of 1942, a stricken plane billowing black smoke went into a tailspin and plummeted to the ground. A parachute could be seen floating down cradling the unconscious body of Danny Hardy. On the soft grass he lay motionless. He was one of the American volunteer pilots who came to help in the Chinese struggle against the Japanese. He was one of the members of the renowned Flying Tigers. This tragic event had been witnessed by Jasmine and her cousin Daisy. In stunning detail Yang swept me along.
Jasmine sent her cousin on a perilous journey for help while she tended to the wounded pilot overnight. That cold night she snuggled close to him and provided warmth from her body. For the injured pilot, it was love at first sight. The feeling was mutual. I couldn’t pull my eyes away.
The following morning help had finally arrived. Unconscious, he was carried back to the village and had his serious wounds attended to by the herbalist, Dr Wang. Everyone in the small village praised the American pilot for coming to the aid of their country. He was a welcomed hero.
Word soon spread. The Japanese were intent on finding the downed American pilot at all costs. It was the village people’s duty and honor to protect him even if it meant placing their own lives at risk. The villagers hoped that their secret would be safe from the warring Japanese. Only time would tell.