by Alan Gratz


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A New York Times bestseller!

It's 1945, and the world is in the grip of war.

Hideki lives on the island of Okinawa, near Japan. When WWII crashes onto his shores, Hideki is drafted into the Blood and Iron Student Corps to fight for the Japanese army. He is handed a grenade and a set of instructions: Don't come back until you've killed an American soldier.

Ray, a young American Marine, has just landed on Okinawa. He doesn't know what to expect -- or if he'll make it out alive. He just knows that the enemy is everywhere.

Hideki and Ray each fight their way across the island, surviving heart-pounding ambushes and dangerous traps. But when the two of them collide in the middle of the battle, the choices they make in that instant will change everything.

From the acclaimed author of Refugee comes this high-octane story of how fear can tear us apart, and how hope can tie us back together.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781338245691
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 10/09/2018
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 16,791
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Alan Gratz is the New York Times bestselling author of several books for young readers, including Grenade; Refugee; Projekt 1065, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2016; Prisoner B-3087, a Junior Library Guild selection that was named to YALSA's 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults list; and Code of Honor, a YALSA 2016 Quick Pick. Alan lives in North Carolina with his wife and daughter. Look for him online at

Read an Excerpt

Grenade in one hand, rubber striking cap in the other, he took a deep breath and ducked into the bushes at the top of the hill. He crept forward until he could see over the ridge.

The dirt path below him was lined with American vehicles. Gray trucks filled with soldiers. Enormous clanking green things with cannons on top and treads for wheels. Open-topped jeeps pulling giant guns on trailers. There were scores of them. They kept coming around the bend in the road. And kept coming and coming.

Hideki ducked deeper into the thicket, afraid they would see him. His hands shook. How was this possible? How had the American devils been able to get so many vehicles past the Japanese defenses? Hideki had seen more automobiles on that road in five minutes than there had been in all of Okinawa before the war.

Hideki's shaking fear crystallized into a hard knot in his stomach, and he knew what he had to do. He had to take out one of those trucks with a grenade. This was his moment. This was his fate. He stood up, fully exposed if any of the soldiers in the trucks had bothered to look up at him, and got ready to strike the match-like fuse on his grenade.

For the Emperor, Hideki told himself. For Japan. For my family.

Hands grabbed Hideki and pulled him back into the bushes before he could activate his grenade. Hideki turned around. It was Yoshio!

"What are you doing?!" Hideki cried.

"The Americans -- they're close by!" Yoshio told him.

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Grenade 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
YoungMensanBookParade 10 months ago
Set on the island of Okinawa, near Japan, Grenade is a compelling story that follows the emotional journeys and perspectives of two different, unrelated people caught in WWII. Grenade imitates the style of Gratz’s other popular book, Refugee, in that the chapters alternate perspectives between the central characters. Grenade is a stand-alone novel, though. The characters’ problems are based on real life events. As historical fiction, it is a realistic and vivid portrayal of life during challenging times. The chapters can be very long, or short, depending on the story arc surrounding the character and the events in his life, but every chapter is beautifully wrought. The story separately follows two people: Ray, a young US Marine, and Hideki, an Okinawan teen. While Ray volunteered, Hideki was drafted into the Japanese Army. Ray is unused to combat; he quickly learns to despise bloodshed. His past is much hidden, and the reader does not learn a lot about him. Hideki is like Ray in his attitude about killing, but unlike Ray he is not bound by patriotism. Okinawa is a captured province of Japan, and so Hideki begins to lose allegiance to Japan as he gets more experience with the workings of the Japanese Army. In both stories there is an underlying theme of family, although in Hideki’s chapters this focus is much more central. I liked the way that the book made me think about the struggles of the characters more intricately than a simple problem of good and evil would have. It portrays the two sides of the war with equal sympathy, a trait that is very rare in any kind of historical depiction. In Grenade, like in life, no choices are easy. The way the book pulls you into the world of Hideki and Ray is enthralling, and it grabs and holds you until the end. I give this book four stars because although it is very well-written in terms of being a poignant, emotionally fraught novel, it is very graphic in its depictions of war. That being said, it is written that way from necessity and the focus is more on the emotional struggles of the characters. However, it is still inappropriate for children under twelve because of the graphic depictions of the subject matter. I would recommend it for students who want a well-written, complex look at the personal struggles of WWII, because it makes the history come alive. Reviewed by Isabelle G., Age 11, Mensa of Western Washington
NadineTimes10 More than 1 year ago
This may very well be the grittiest middle grade novel I've read in my life, or at least since I've been past middle grade age. And even if you've also grown past the young readers this novel targets, don't mistake it for a juvenile storybook or something. This isn't a nostalgic, romantic, or watered-down tale, to make war look like a grand and glorious adventure, merely a mechanism for building heroes. It's a gut-wrenching, violent, tragic story of the impossible costs of deadly conflict. While it's not gratuitous in its horror, like a book that would give me nightmares, this novel makes no bones about conveying that war is just that. A nightmare. A waking one. And yet, it isn't a dark story for the sake of darkness. It's a human story. A nuanced story. A story that might make your soul cry. Hideki's and Ray's experiences and reflections reach to a critical level past the surface of things, as this isn't a journey of easy, surface answers. The ending of Part One is painfully brilliant, and how the sober, overall ending manages to be triumphant is incredible. Read it. If your soul cries, let it. Oh—and after the last scene, do *not* skip the Author's Note.