Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

So Far from the Bamboo Grove is an autobiography that traces the Japanese author’s narrow escape from Korea during World War II. In addition to the eleven chapters that tell Yoko Kawashima Watkins’ story, this riveting account offers a map showing all the geographical locations mentioned in the story, a foreword by acclaimed author Jean Fritz, and historical notes from the publisher.

So Far from the Bamboo Grove tells two parallel escape stories from Korea: the escape of eleven-year-old Yoko with her sister and mother, and the separate escape of her brother, Hideyo, with his friends. Although most of the story is about the Kawashima women, several chapters are devoted to Hideyo’s escape.

The setting is World War II. Yoko and her family are Japanese and living in Nanam, Korea. Korean Communists are killing the Japanese people, and many are fleeing the country. Yoko’s father is away from home, serving in the Japanese military, and Yoko and her family must escape from the Korean communists without his help.

Korean Communist soldiers come through Yoko’s village, ransacking her home and those of other Japanese families. When it occurs to Yoko’s mother, Mrs. Kawashima, that they must escape immediately, Yoko’s brother, Hideyo, is away working at a factory in another town. Mrs. Kawashima contacts a family friend and military officer, Corporal Matsumura, who assists Yoko, her sister, Ko, and Mrs. Kawashima...

(The entire section is 597 words.)