Midori is a graphic novel inspired by my mother's experiences as a child in Hiroshima during WWII (with some fictional and fantasy elements woven in). Midori Nakamura was 11 years old in 1945. She and her brother were sent to a Shinto temple that summer. Her father and sister stayed behind. The city expected to be firebombed, like Tokyo. They had no idea what was coming.
The graphic novel follows four parallel stories: Midori and her brother living with the Shinto priests; grandmother and father building fire breaks in the city; her sister, Akiko, working at the prisoner of war camp where she meets an American pilot and an American pastor; and Midori's private encounters with the kami, or spirits, in the forest—there she enters a fantasy world that looks exactly like our world but isn't, a world of secrets and mystery. As these stories unfold in magical, humorous, dark and heartbreaking ways, the clock ticks relentlessly toward August 6, 1945.
Here's the opening, drawn by the amazing Erich Owen. In this scene, the family pounds rice to remove the brown husk. The kids goof off, and are sternly corrected by Midori's tough grandmother. They get back to work, but soon Midori sees a kami fox. No one else sees it, not even her brother. She chases the fox through town. Eventually, it will lead her to the bank where her father is meeting with the elders to plan evacuating children from the city.
I visited Japan when I was seven. My uncle was the most joyful man I ever met. It wasn't until years later that I learned he had been in Hiroshima that day.