Topic: Grenade - Alan Gratz

Grenade is a novel written by well-known author Alan Gratz.  The story is very unique to Gratz's writing style, in the sense that the same story is being told, but from different viewpoints.  The different viewpoints I refer to are fictional characters Hideki and Ray.  During the time of WWII, Grenade follows the story of two young boys fighting for their country.  Taking place on the small island place of Okinawa, Ray, the American, and Hideki, the Japanese boy, are both part of groups that, as of recently in the book, meet and are fighting.

About my reading of the book itself, the book is going by very quickly.  After only three reading sessions, I am into the 60s and 70s of pages.  This book, when compared to The Englishman's Boy or Tar Sands, is, for lack of a better way to put it, an easier book.  Grenade has simpler vocabulary, fewer words per page, and a much fewer pages from cover to cover. 
The story, however, isn't so simple, as it tells, from a third-person perspective, about the two young boys' time in service for their country.

Gratz uses the narrative very well to convey emotion and reality through to the reader.

Re: Grenade - Alan Gratz

Following the point of view from the Japanese boy, Hideki, his story is constantly developing.  Hideki has a conflict within himself, as well as with other boys from school, and the Americans.

With himself, Hideki is struggling to overcome the stigma surrounding him and his ancestors.  Many ages ago, one of Hideki's ancestors was very cowardly.  Affecting every third generation, this ancestor's spirit is restless in Hideki as he tries to prove himself brave.  As he endures battle with the American soldiers, he is struggling now more than ever to put his ancestor's spirit to rest; to prove himself brave.

In his conflict with the other boys at school, Hideki is constantly being harassed and bullied because of his size, weakness, and because of people knowing of his cowardice.

With the Americans, Hideki and his group had just tried to get the jump on Ray's group of Americans, but the Japanese ended up losing the firefight.

It is yet to be seen if Hideki can overcome his fears, but I predict that the story will come to a happy ending; with Hideki proving himself not a coward.

Re: Grenade - Alan Gratz

From Ray's point of view, the story is evolving with every page. 
Ray's story began with him on a boat with the rest of his group landing on a beach on the island of Okinawa.  Although they expected to encounter heavy resistance upon landing, the Americans were surprised to find no such opposition.  After digging their foxholes and settling in, one of their group members is unexpectedly shot in the head from an unknown adversary.  The Americans use cunning and battle strategy to flush out the sniper and kill him.
Ray is disturbed by how easily one of the more experienced group members ended another person's life.  Ray was ordered to go search the body, upon which he discovered something.
Ray found a photograph of this young man, a woman who he assumed to be a spouse, and a younger boy, who appeared to be their son.  Ray took the photo and kept it because he felt it was the right thing to do.  Gratz puts in little details like these to create emotion and feelings between the narrative and the reader.

Re: Grenade - Alan Gratz

The storylines shared between the two boys came to a focal point in recent events.  Ray had been fleeing from conflict, as was Hideki.  Eventually, as they were running, the two boys, literally, ran into each other.  Ray and Hideki both recognized the opposite as the enemy and took to self-defense.  Hideki used a grenade as a weapon and managed to kill Ray before he could defend himself.  Hideki came to greatly regret this reflex soon.  He had never killed a man before and was haunted by Ray’s spirit.  Before this turning point in the story, Hideki and Ray had narratives following them that were about the same depth.  But now that one of the two is gone, Gratz has effectively given himself much more depth to add to Hideki’s story.  Ray’s untimely death took place just after the halfway point in the book, so there’s still so much room for Hideki’s story to play out.

Re: Grenade - Alan Gratz

Although it would seem that after his death in previous chapters, Ray's story was over, this is not at all the truth.
While yes, Ray was a casualty in battle, Hideki believes that his spirit still haunts him everywhere.  Hideki occasionally notices a ghost resembling the fallen soldier in the corner of his eye, or waking up from a dream to see the ruined body of Ray standing by his bedside.  Be it some kind of PTSD, delusion from a head injury, or a real haunting, Ray’s story is not finished.
Hideki is restlessly attempting to make up for his cruel and inhumane actions.  This is to say that Ray’s spirit is at unrest, and Hideki is trying to shape his actions day by day to let Ray’s spirit be restful.  Hideki gives up on trying to fight for the Japanese army.  Instead, after finding his sister amidst the chaos, Hideki leads her and a group of children to safety through an American camp.  Hideki knew that the Americans would become killers if they felt threatened, so he and the others were very cautious to be vulnerable and appear safe.  Hideki and the others had reached safety, and I presume this to be the conclusion of the book.  However, it is yet to be seen if Hideki can manage to leave Ray’s spirit to rest.