The Flowers of Hiroshima, A Book Review

When I first read this book, I had just turned 14. I have never forgotten the heartbreak. This is a review of The Flowers of Hiroshima by Edita Morris, re-read more than 50 years later.

image of the cover of The Flowers of Hiroshima.


Told in the first person, this is the story of a Japanese family and their American boarder. The tone is loving and tender and heartbreaking.

Yuka-san, a young housewife, meets Sam Willoughby outside of her home. Sam, a young American on a business trip to Hiroshima, wants to stay with a native family. Yuka’s family could use the extra money. So Sam becomes her lodger.

Yuka-san loves her family, friends, and neighbors. She worries about her husband. Takes delight in her two children, her beautiful sister, and her American lodger. And she hides the ugliness of post-atomic-bomb-life from Sam.

She watches Sam fall in love with Ohatsu and hopes that he will marry her sister and take her to America. But Ohatsu loves another. And Yuka cannot deny her sister a chance for happiness. Then the shadow they live under touches each of them and changes all of their lives.


Fourteen years after the atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima, Yuka and her family live in the “back alley” of Hiroshima. They rent their two-room home with its “handkerchief-sized garden” on a road “as narrow and twisting as a chewed-up string.”

We see lives with limited opportunities and terrible economic and social pressures. And we get glimpses of the stories behind physical and emotional scars.


Edita Morris (1902-1988) was born in Örebro, Sweden, to Reinhold Toll and his first wife Alma Prom-Möller. The youngest of four daughters, she grew up on her grandmother’s farm and in Stockholm. Her “strong-willed divorced mother” and a “good girls’ school” educated her.

While engaged to a young lieutenant from a noble family, she met journalist and writer, Ira Morris. Ira was the son of an American millionaire and envoy to Stockholm. They married in 1925. His political and social interests sparked hers. They traveled extensively and became political activists. During WWII, they lived in America.

Morris had her first short stories published in the Atlantic MonthlyHarper’s Bazaar, and other publications. Her first novel, My Darling from the Lions, was published in 1943.

In 1959, she published The Flowers of Hiroshima. It won the Albert Schweitzer Prize in 1961. Morris wrote many other books, but The Flowers of Hiroshima is her best known work. They translated the story into 39 languages and made an opera. Hollywood purchased the film rights but never made a movie.

Her inspiration came partly from her visits to Japan. But she also drew on the experiences of her son, Ivan Morris. Ivan was an intelligence office in the U.S. Navy. In that role, he visited Hiroshima immediately after the bombing. He later became a distinguished Japanologist.

Morris and her husband founded a rest house in Hiroshima for victims of the bomb. After her death, the Edita and Ira Morris Hiroshima Foundation for Peace and Culture, usually known as the Hiroshima Foundation, was established.

She died in Paris in 1988.


This is a relatively short and easy read. It moved me as a teen and left an indelible memory. When I decided to devote part of this month to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, I decided to re-read this story.

As an adult rereading the story, I recognized some mild propaganda. There is some dated language but the characters, time, and place are so well rendered that it is easy to overlook. Finally, there are a few places where the Japanese viewpoint slipped into a more American one. These things were minor.

The character Yuka is always compassionate. She never casts blame or expresses hatred, not even when her worst fears come true. It’s a heartrending story of dignity and compassion and suffering. It grabbed hold of my imagination as a teen and in rereading it. Several passages moved me to tears. 

If you haven’t guessed, I highly recommend this book. I hope you’ve enjoyed my review of The Flowers of Hiroshima by Edita Morris. Have you read any fiction about the survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki?

Do You Read Zombie Stories?

Zombies are everywhere you turn. Television, Movies, memes on Facebook, and in stories. I don’t normally read this genre. Do you read zombie stories? If you do, I have a recommendation.

image of the book cover for Survival by Rhonda Hopkins

I read the first episode of Rhonda Hopkin’s Survival series. If you like zombie stories, if you like fast action, strong female characters, and a good story, you’ll like this one.

The Amazon Description

When Sarah escapes from her brutal abductors, she promises to return to rescue her twin sister, but with the dead walking the earth she is forced to rely on a coworker who made her work life hell for years. With her coworker weakened by cancer treatments, her sister still imprisoned, and the dead looking for an easy meal, Sarah’s only plan, if she can pull it off, is Survival.

The First Page

The first line hooked me but wouldn’t have been strong enough to keep me reading. The main character and her desperate plight kept me going. 

The Characters

image of a gray zombie--Do you read zombie stories?

The protagonist is Sarah. She’s real. She faces an impossible situation from which many would run away.

You care about Sarah and what happens because she fights for her sister and for people she knows need her. Her worries are real and her concern runs deep. That propels the reader through the story.

Most of the other characters are three dimensional and worth caring about. In a short piece, there isn’t always space to flesh-out (pun intended) all the characters.

The Storyline

Most of the action is believable… if you can say that fighting zombies is believable.

I don’t know how much blood and guts a typical zombie story has, but there’s enough in this story for you to get the horror of it. And not so much that it feels gratuitous.

Writing Style

Hopkin’s writing style is clear. There are some strong, evocative lines. And she includes enough description to ground you, the reader. At least one location in her story is real, though she admits on her Acknowledgments page that she took a few liberties.

The Author (from her website)

Rhonda Hopkins is an award-winning author of Apocalyptic Science Fiction, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romantic Suspense and Nonfiction for adults, teens/young adult, and middle grade. She uses her past experience as an investigator to craft characters that are diverse and full of life, along with situations that include the dark and the light side of humanity. Rhonda especially enjoys finding that light—the hope and spirit of survival in everyday people.

Read more about Rhonda and her books on her website.

In Conclusion

I received a free copy of this story as part of a promotion by the author. (It has been in my to-be-read pile for far too long. Sorry, Rhonda!)

This is a short read and part of a series, but Hopkins made the story feel complete.

There were one or two instances where word choices threw me temporarily out of the story. YMMV.

All-in-all, it was an engrossing read (or is it a gross read when speaking of zombies?). I give this story a 4 out of 5 stars.

Did you like this review? Check out my Going to Mars Word-by-Word series of book reviews.

Do you read zombie stories? Have you read Survival? What did you think?

What Your Book Review Can Do

You love to read, don’t you? You seek books that will sweep you into another world or time or place. Books with characters you love or love to hate. The rush of reading as fast as you can or the savoring every word can leave you with a thrill. Books that do that for you are precious. And we writers dream of creating that book for you. But do you know what your book review can do for the author, for other readers, and for the book publishing industry?

Yes. You, dear reader, have the power to influence a book’s success but only if you review the books you read. What is this power?

Photo of a girl sitting on a bench and reading a book--What your book review can do is powerful.

The Power to Share 

You’ve read a great book. Don’t be selfish. Share it. 

On sites like Amazon or Goodreads, you can give the book a star-rating. 

Your written review spotlights the book for other potential readers. More than 85% of buyers on Amazon check the reviews before they buy. 

You’ll not only point readers like you to the book, but you’ll also thrill the author.

The Power to Spare

You’ve read a not so great book. Don’t be mean about it. Remember how you’d feel if someone made disparaging remarks about the way you talked or dressed.

If there’s something positive you can say, share that information.  

If you couldn’t finish it. Say so. Be honest and helpful. Give a brief statement of why you couldn’t finish (too many spelling and grammar errors, characters weren’t believable, etc.)

You’ll spare other readers from being disappointed.

Your review also gives the author a clue that the ad copy is misleading. Or that the editing or writing needs improvement. Your kind feedback will be appreciated more than you know.

The Power to Boost

Did you discover a great author who isn’t getting the attention you think the work merits? Writing a review will help boost the visibility of the book and the author. No matter if you’re the first or the hundred-first reviewer. Your review could be the one that boosts that book to greater visibility.

The Power to Increase Writing Skills

Analyzing, reviewing and critiquing books are skills. If you want to improve your skill, practice it by reading and writing reviews. 

The Power to Hone Reading Skills

When you read a book with the intent of writing a review, you may read a little slower or pay extra attention to details that will enhance your reading skills. It may mean you get more out of the book. 

The Power to Influence Other Reviewers

Your review may draw the attention of like-minded reviewers. You have the power to show other reviewers your appreciation by clicking the like button under their review. 

The Power to Alter Also-Boughts

Did you know that when you review a book, your book buying history is important? The books you’ve bought before may show as an also-bought under this book you reviewed. It may also list this book as an also bought under other books you’ve read and reviewed. This points potential buyers to the book you reviewed.

The Power to Lure Other Readers

Your review may point out an attraction or feature of the book that the marketing did not. When that happens, you help lure other readers to the book. You also may help the author reach a broader audience. 

The Power of Quality Control

Your kindly worded review may point out flaws that prevent other readers from reading a book of poor quality. If your review is kind and specific, you may help an author improve a weakness. 

The Power to Influence the Industry

The business of writing fiction is changing. The internet, Amazon, digital books, and independent publishing are shaking up the book world. Your likes and dislikes will influence future decisions made by the authors, editors, artists, and publishers.

The Power to Brighten an Author’s Day

Your review can be a gift. It can brighten the days when the words won’t come or the one-star reviews arrive. You can make an author bounce with joy. (Or was that just me?)

Graphic representation of colorful silhouettes of talking heads with blank conversational balloons. What your book review can do is inform other readers.
Book reviews spread the word.

How to Write a Review

If you haven’t written a review for fear of “doing it wrong,” you aren’t alone. But writing a review isn’t hard. And it doesn’t need to be long.

Here are some ideas you can consider including in your review:

  • Book title and author 
  • An overview of what the book was about.
  • What you liked best about the book
  • What you thought could have been better
  • If this book reminded you of another book
  • What type of reader do you think might like this book
  • Would you recommend this book

You don’t have to include all the above ideas. Write your review like you are telling your best friend about it. 

Where to Write a Review

If you purchased the book, consider leaving a review on the bookseller’s site (like Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble.)

If you received a copy for free, it’s a good idea to mention that. Say something to the effect that you received the book for free without obligation. There wasn’t one, was there? A review should never be required to get a free book.

You can leave the review on a book review website (BookBub, Library Thing, etc.) or your own website.

Other places would include newsletters, magazines (online or print) or a review site.

One caution: if you are a personal friend of the author your review may be seen as a type of ballot-stuffing. Write your honest review. A website like Amazon or Goodreads may remove your review because you’re friends with the author. Don’t get mad. Post that review on a different website. 

What Your Book Review Can Do

There are authors who will tell you that reviews are critical to their success. It’s true, reviews have the power to influence the success of a book. More than that, thoughtful reviews are a benefit. They benefit readers, authors, and others in the business of publishing books.

*Shameless plug* If you’ve read My Soul to Keep, have you reviewed it? *End shameless plug*

What your book review can do is amazing, isn’t it? Have a question about writing book reviews? Put it in the comments below. Did you review the last book you read? Tell me in the comments.

A Novel Announcement

And the Story Behind the Story

Recently I realized I’ve never made the official novel announcement here. News I shared several weeks ago on Facebook and Twitter, but not here. (For those of you who’ve seen Facebook or Twitter you’ll like the story behind the story.) My novel, My Soul to Keep, went live as an ebook on August 21st. It is now also available as a paperback book on Amazon. Other retailers can order it from Ingram.

A novel announcement for My Soul to Keep by Lynette M. Burrows
Click on the image for more about My Soul to Keep and see the new cover

What’s the Story?

This dystopian tale takes place in 1961, but America is not the nation you know. It’s an insular land of righteousness, repression, and fear.

Drawn into a maelstrom of political intrigue, familial deception, and social upheaval two women, one peaceful and the other violent, seek truth and justice. To find the truth they will have to make sacrifices.

Triumph will free them and the nation.

Failure will mean a face-off with the angel-assassin, Azrael.

How A Nice Girl Wrote A Dystopian Novel

You might wonder how “a nice girl like” me came to write a dystopian novel.

I moved seventeen times before I graduated from high school. No, neither parent was in any armed service. Seventeen different homes, seventeen different schools. Can you imagine a more hostile environment? Neither can I which is why I am uniquely qualified to write a dystopian novel.

The Real Story

When I was struggling to find the right vehicle for the story, My Soul to Keep. I knew early on that incest would be a big part of the novel. I tried writing a fantasy with dragons. I tried writing a realistic, contemporary novel. I even tried to write it with aliens in the story. But the truth is, I cannot imagine a more dystopian society than the one with family units where a child is abused. When I created the dystopian alternate history and wrote the story, Miranda came alive.

If you’ve been reading this blog from it’s beginning you know that I once had nightmares like my character. My nightmares were far less clear than Miranda’s. I believe that I was sexually abused but I have no actual memory to support that and I have no proof. So having Miranda search for her truth was a natural extension of the story. But, that also mired the story in too much of my own fears and uncertainties. It took a while to get clarity personally and in the story.

I credit my mentor, William F. Wu, for a lot of that clarity. He indulged me in long rambling emails. He encouraged me to think about this or that in reference to a particular scene or theme. But he never tried to shape my story or my characters. He helped me realize the structure that existed in the mess of words I’d written. Encouraged me to trim the fat and expose my truths. That kind of mentor is worth so much more than a thank you.

When I decided to create a religious tyranny I drew on my past (granddaughter of a Baptist minister on one side and of a Nazarene Deacon on the other). And I researched many other religious traditions, choosing this bit and that. The hardest part was trying to decide how such a tyranny came about in America. I decided to expand on a dark time in American history, the isolationist period. At the time I was developing the novel this darker America seemed a far stretch. I had no idea that in the real world, America was going to take another dark turn. I should have guessed. Ideas, good and bad, cycle through history again and again.

A Happy Author

It’s an odd and exciting feeling to finally have a published book. There are so many firsts that it’s somewhat overwhelming. And it’s not the last. Watch for a new look to this website and sample chapters will be available. In my soon-to-be-released Burrows Insiders newsletter, there will be more announcements and some sneak peeks at a couple of new works-in-progress. 

My undying thanks to the people who have read My Soul to Keep and posted reviews. I’m delighted that the book has received 5 stars from all who’ve reviewed or rated it so far. If you have read it, please take the time to leave your honest review. Every review helps get the book noticed, even if you didn’t enjoy the novel. It’s “make an author happy day.” If you haven’t bought your copy—help a girl out, won’t you? 

Buy My Soul to Keep by Lynette M. Burrows from Walmart

My Soul to Keep is, in a way, an intensely personal story and yet, it isn’t my story at all. Miranda grew to be her own kind of character doing things I’d never attempt. The world is one I wouldn’t want to live in, yet it helped me explore ideas that I needed to explore. One of my readers said, “The growth Miranda achieves in her journeys empowers her to take action to change the world around her and do things she never would have thought herself capable of in the beginning of the book – a message I hope I can take to heart.” I couldn’t ask for more.

Spycraft: Essentials–a Review

Spies, and spooks, and agents, oh, my! Spycraft: Essentials by Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes has the title right. This book is for anyone who writes about spies, loves the history of American intelligence agencies and spycraft, or anyone who enjoys a good and educational read.
Spycraft: Essentials-a review
Clear definitions give the reader the background she needs to understand American politics as it relates to the spy business. Explanations of the distinctions between American agencies clarify a lot. And there are fascinating examples of events and people in the business.
The sections addressed to writers and how one can use the information included in the book are idea-sparking. Who knew that being color-blind would keep a spook from being good at planting bugs?
What makes the book a sheer delight for me is the humor hits. Piper and Jay have rapier wits and use their humor in unexpected places. “Let’s say someone at the CIA identifies Schmucky Putavich in Bananastan as a person of interest.” There were many times while reading that a chortle escaped me.
This is a book you can sit down and read front to back, or choose a specific topic and only read those sections. Whatever way you read it, I’m certain you’ll learn and enjoy learning. On a scale of 1-5, I give this book a 5.
Piper Bayard is a recovering attorney and an author. Her co-author, Jay Holmes, is a former field intelligence operative currently a senior member of the intelligence community. They know whereof they speak.
Get a copy of Spycraft: Essentials by Bayard and Holmes. It’s available on Amazon now. You won’t regret it!
Please note: I received an Advance Readers’ Copy of Spycraft for free without obligation. But, this is a book I will also buy because it’s a book I want and need on my bookshelf. I wish I’d had this book before I started writing my novel, My Soul to Keep. But I’m glad I’ll have it while writing the next books in the series.