Trampled Blossoms: What They Stole from Grandma
World War II “comfort women” are unfamiliar to many Western readers – especially young adults. Trampled Blossoms spotlights these victims and their little-known history through the story of Chun-ja, a thirteen-year-old Korean girl who is kidnapped by Japanese soldiers and forced to work as a sex slave.
The novel explores Chun-ja’s story through the eyes of Yu-ri, her preteen granddaughter who lives in modern-day Seoul. Yu-ri is exasperated by her over-protective grandmother, but when Chun-ja vanishes after her middle school graduation, Yu-ri determines to uncover her grandmother’s mysterious past. She discovers a book about comfort women and learns Chun-ja was forced to work as a comfort woman until she was freed by Americans at the end of WWII. After she finishes the book, Yu-ri wonders if Chun-ja’s erratic behavior was a type of PTSD, even though her grandmother was too embarrassed to admit the truth.
Some authors might detail the horrors of WWII sex slavery too explicitly for young adult readers, but Moon Young-sook maintains historical accuracy while remaining age-appropriate. She also sheds light on trauma’s relational consequences with poignancy and dignity. Trampled Blossoms is an engaging, insightful read sure to satisfy both teens and their parents.
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