Book Review | The Plum Blooms in Winter by Linda Thompson

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A Prostitute Seeks Her Revenge–In 1942, Miyako Matsuura cradled her little brother as he died on the sidewalk, a victim of the first U.S. bombing raid on Japan. By 1948, the war has reduced her to a street-hardened prostitute consumed by her shame.

A WWII Hero Finds His True Mission–Captured by the Japanese after piloting a B-25 in the Doolittle Raid, Dave Delham survived a harrowing P.O.W ordeal. In 1948 he returns to Japan as a Christian missionary, determined to showcase Christ’s forgiveness.

Convinced that Delham was responsible for the bomb that snuffed out her brother’s life, Miyako resolves to restore her honor by avenging him—even if it costs her own life.

But the huntress soon turns hunted in Osaka’s treacherous underworld. Miyako must outmaneuver a ruthless brothel owner, outwit a pair of brutal gangs with competing plans to profit by her, and overcome betrayal by family and friends—only to confront a decision that will change everything.

My Thoughts

In The Plum Blooms in Winter, Linda Thompson portrays two human hearts rising out of the ashes of war. Prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Dave Delham dreamed of flying and returning home to America as a hero. Halfway around the world, 14-year-old Miyako Matsuura was a young student and the daughter of a notable family. A sense of noble destiny “sang through her blood” and her family’s honor was foremost in her thoughts. Their worlds and priorities would be upended on April 18th, 1942 when Delham and the crew of the Pensacola Payback B-25 unleashed its payload of bombs on Osaka, Japan and then ditched in Japanese occupied China.

As an American, veteran, and military spouse I was initially drawn in by my deference to those who wear the uniform. I love the patriotic spirit of the story and the bravery shown by the servicemen while in captivity, but I also cringed at the actions of some after the war concluded. Through Matsuura and her family, readers begin to understand the weight Japanese culture places on honor. I enjoyed the balance between sides, the author’s crisp pacing, and the gradual unveiling of the gospel message. Edgy, yet edifying, Thompson’s debut is sure to leave its mark on you.

Some may be apprehensive about the subject matter of this story.  If so, let me try to assuage your fears… For much of the book, Delham is a prisoner of war. He endures torture at the hand of his Japanese captors, with prisoner conditions echoing those chronicled in non-fiction history books. The author treads carefully with Matsuura’s profession, giving it an air of authenticity without crossing the line into sensuality or salaciousness. Furthermore, these scenes demonstrate each character’s depravity and that of their fellow man. By no means do I think Thompson has stepped beyond the bounds of what could be labeled Christian fiction. To the contrary, it was apparent to me she took great pains to be sensitive to her audience while delivering a powerful story of forgiveness and redemption.

The Plum Blooms in Winter highlighted for me the true battlefield for man—our hearts and minds. If you have time to squeeze in one more book before the New Year, let it be this one. If not, then you definitely need to add it to your list of books to read in 2019.

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For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Ephesians 6:12

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