Yoko’s Diary: The life of a young girl in Hiroshima during WWII; edited by Paul Ham; translated by Debbie Edwards; HarperCollins ($16.99). Ages 8 to 12. Publication Sept. 9.
On Aug. 5, 1945, 13-year-old Yoko Moriwaki, preparing with other student laborers to work clearing away debris of demolished houses in Hiroshima, wrote in her diary: “I will work hard and do my best.” The next day, she got up early, took the ferry to the mainland, and was about 765 yards from the blast site when the atomic bomb was dropped at 8:15 a.m. She died late that night, asking for her mother. This moving book offers a poignant portrait of a young girl’s hopes and dreams amidst everyday trials and tribulations (doing her homework, being late for school, weeding, visiting her grandmother, losing her hat) and the privations of war (missing her father, going hungry, taking shelter during air raids as other Japanese cities were bombed). Paul Ham met Yoko’s brother and learned of her diary while researching his 2011 book “Hiroshima Nagasaki.” Included with the rather brief diary entries are a prologue from Yoko’s brother, a letter about Yoko’s death from the woman who nursed her in her final hours, photographs; helpful background material from Ham about the war, the Japanese educational system and the Japanese way of life, and a final diary entry by Yoko’s father, a music teacher, along with the piano music for a song he wrote about Yoko, “Beloved Daughter,” a cheerful melody he rewrote in a minor key after he learned of her death upon returning home from an internment facility in Shanghai.
– Jean Westmoore
Everybody’s Got Something by Robin Roberts and Victoria Chambers, Grand Central, 272 pages ($27).
Robin Roberts worked hard to get where she is, from local television to make it as co-anchor of “Good Morning America.” She always displayed an unwillingness to give up when things weren’t easy. In 2007, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. She was able to beat this form of cancer, but in 2012 was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic syndrome, a type of cancer in which the bone marrow does not manufacture enough healthy blood cells. Thus began the journey that she recounts in “Everybody’s Got Something.” This second cancer fight most likely stemmed, she says from the chemotherapy she had undergone for breast cancer five years before.
Throughout her battles with cancer, Roberts remained dedicated to her craft and used her hard times for her viewers’ education and enlightenment.
She began her career as a sports reporter and anchor with local television stations in Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia. From there she jumped to ESPN, hosting the network’s new show “Sportscenter.” In 2005 after years as a popular contributor to “Good Morning America” she was made the show’s co-anchor. Not long after, she would see the show surpass its rival, the perpetual No. 1 powerhouse the “Today Show,” after 852 weeks of coming in second.
“Good Morning America,” she makes it clear in her book, is not just a job for Roberts. Past and present associates from the show, she says, have found a place in her life and her heart – more like family than just co-workers. But then as she tells her story, so did the viewers. Her popularity worked to draw the American public into her fight and no doubt increased because of it. She and her viewers had a common enemy; they were “Team Robin,” her cheering section. Her book is about what it took to make it out the other side of her ordeal.
Don’t expect Roberts to lose her positivity. In over 200 pages of her memoir she doesn’t waver from her upbeat attitude. If there were times early in her book that it felt a bit disjointed, her story evened out and had a better flow as she became a survivor in every sense of the word.
– Amy Yakawiak