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Two boys. Two grenades.

The day the Americans land on Okinawa during World War II, the Japanese Army pulls Hideki Kaneshiro and all the other boys out of middle school and gives them each two grenades. One grenade, they tell Hideki, is to kill an American soldier.

The other grenade is to kill himself.

Ray Majors is a newly-minted Marine from Nebraska, hitting the beach on Okinawa for his first action of World War II. He left home to get away from his father, who came back from World War I a broken, angry man. A monster. But how can Ray survive the Typhoon of Steel that is the Battle of Okinawa without becoming a monster himself?

Hideki and Ray are destined to meet — and when they do, both their lives will be changed forever.

Scholastic | October 9, 2018 | Ages 8 and Up

A New York Times bestseller!

Book Trailer


Impossible to put down. Action fans will have this flying off the shelves.


Intense and fast-paced, this is a compelling, dark, yet ultimately heartening wartime story.


Alan Gratz couldn’t write a slow-paced book even if he were paid by the word.

—Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, New York Times Book Review

War is portrayed honestly here…the finality of death and the lasting emotional consequences are starkly rendered.

—Publishers Weekly

A chilling, realistic depiction of war. An excellent World War II novel.

—School Library Journal

A sad and compelling story that sheds some light on a battle that is rarely mentioned in books written for juvenile readers. Highly recommended.

—School Library Connection

While the plot is suspenseful and the characters sympathetic, this novel by Gratz is especially notable for its unique Okinawan lens.

—Horn Book


2022 Wisconsin Golden Archer Middle Grade Book Award Winner

DCS Teen Lit Top Ten List 2019-2020

2019 YALSA Quick Picks for Young Readers

2019 Audie Award Finalist – Middle Grade

Bank Street Best Children’s Books of 2019

2019 ILA/CBC Children’s Choices Reading List

2018 Freeman Book Award Winner – Young Adult/Middle Grade Literature

2021 Sakura Medal Book Award Nominee

2020 Ohio Buckeye Children’s Book Award Nominee