This is a heart ranching story of the 28 girls living in a hut with their teacher Miss E. in Weihsien Civilian Assembly Center, a Japanese prison in Northern China, during WW11. 13 year old Gwen, one of them, is the narrator and gives us the grim realities of prison life. By 1945, she had been interned for 2 years and a half along with other children who were enrolled at a boarding school in Chefoo when the Japanese Imperial Army invaded China.
Although the story is meant for young readers as an adult I found it well told, compelling and very much engaging. We do not see much fiction set during this time and even less being told through the eyes a young teenager. Gwen’s story is based on true accounts.
As the narrative unfolds in the present tense and the condition in the camp is detailed enough but in a tone considerably softened for the ears of a young audience, we live the horrors of beatings, starvation and lack of everything. By the end we are left to our imagination to what happened to Gwen’s fate with the arrival of the American troops. This story leaves several threads hanging, quite disappointing not to know.
The other characters in this tragic story are Miss E., the Japanese guards, a kindly Japanese officer, Lu, a Chinese laborer and some of Gwen’s friends give us heart rending moments.
“The Taste of Rain” is the sort of book that will engage as well as inform young adults and grown-ups as well.
I received this ARC from Orca Book Publisher via the First Reviewer Program for my thoughts