My Review: The Big Wave tells the story of Kino and Jiya, two young boys who live near each other on one of the islands of Japan. Kino is a farmer’s son who lives on the side of a mountain near Jiya’s small fishing village. When not hard at work, both boys spend their free time playing together in the ocean surf, exploring caves, and sneaking glimpses of the rich Old Gentlman who lives on a nearby estate. Kino doesn’t understand Jiya’s fear of the ocean, until a large wave destroys the fishing village, killing Jiya’s family and wiping out their home. Jiya survives and is taken in by Koni’s family until one day the Old Gentlman offers to take Jiya into his home and raise him as his son in a life of luxury. Now, Jiya must decide whether to stay with Koni and his family, in a life of poverty and uncertainty, or accept the Old Gentleman’s offer of security and luxury.
Pearl S. Buck is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Good Earth, a classic novel that I read and reviewed back in December. It was fabulous, but rather long, and I was delighted to find this 57-page novella sitting on the shelf at our local Goodwill. It only took about a half hour to read, and I loved the opportunity to delve back into the author’s writing style.
Although marketed as a children’s novel, The Big Wave is richly descriptive, incorporating various aspects of Japanese culture and local life, and bursting with life lessons for young and old. Koni’s father is kind to both boys as they deal with the devastating effects of the tsunami; he allows them to grieve, helps them process their feelings, and teaches them the true meaning of bravery and happiness.
My Rating: 4 Stars
For the sensitive reader: At one point, Jiya, Koni, and Koni’s family watch in horror as an entire village is swept away by a tsunami. It’s not graphic, but Jiya’s entire family is killed. This might be hard on a younger reader.
Summary: A little book with a great deal of wisdom. Definitely worth your time.