Parents' Guide to


By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Tense, gripping WWII drama has powerful cost-of-war message.

Grenade Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 9+

It is to good for this world!!

It is such a great book on ww2 it is about to kids that are on different sides of the war. It is a great book to get you kids to stat reading. It is a easy reading level for 10 up that is why I put 10 up. Just a good book all in all

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
age 14+

The human cost of total war

Two boys on opposite sides of World War II, Ray and Hideki, live a beautiful story of suffering, pain, and redemption. We journey with them to discover what may be worth more than one's own life. These spiritual themes are understandable for a 9-year-old reader, I believe. **** My problems recommending this book for younger readers: (1) graphic suffering; (2) graphic violence; (3) copious violence anesthetizing the audience; (4) graphic guilt and inner monstrosity painted so thickly, reader empathy might be too heavy; (5) the spiritual messages may not become apparent until much of the violence has been absorbed. **** The movie raters had a hard time keeping Apocalypse Now 'R' and not 'X'. Here is a passage from Grenade that I found just as graphic: "He lowered his rifle and started for a woman with a baby in her arms. ... Ray watched in stunned horror as a Japanese soldier dressed as one of the Okinawans tossed aside the ratty blanket he hid beneath and shot the Old Man dead. More Japanese soldiers did the same, and all hell broke loose. ... When the last rifle fired, the Marines stood in the pouring rain surrounded by bodies. Some of the dead were American Marines. Some were Japanese soldiers. But many more of them were Okinawans. Refugees who had needed their help. ... Ray let the tip of his rifle drop into the mud and looked around in horror. In his panic he'd fired round after round into the crowd. He had to have killed innocent Okinawans. He knew it. In just a few awful seconds, he had become the monster these people were so afraid of. ... And the worst part was, Ray knew he would do it again when he had to." **** My 12-year-old daughter read Alan Gratz's Refugee. Knowing her reaction to Refugee, I'd like to read that book, too, before I stand by my age rating for this book. For now, I'd rate this book age 14. **** BTW I would give 4-1/2 stars if I could … I found the first half of the book not quite trite for being a lot like all the Vietnam movies that have come before.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (14 ):

This expertly crafted, well-researched novel mines a historical battle for its page-turning drama while shining a light on the human cost of war and examining how war erodes our humanity. In Grenade, author Alan Gratz spotlights soldiers and civilians from all sides of the battle: Americans, Japanese, and the Okinawans enlisted to fight for the Japanese but caught in the middle. For half the novel, Gratz alternates chapters, switching between two very young soldiers, one Okinawan and one American. Both are sensitive, tenderhearted boys who struggle with the killing that they see around them and that they are called to do.

In this book, there are no good guys and bad guys. Rather than glorifying war, it demonstrates concretely how war turns humans into soldiers who do monstrous things. "They became monsters when they were afraid. It didn't excuse it, but it explained it." He also weaves in respectful details about the traditional spiritual beliefs and practices of the Okinawan people, taking the story beyond the battlefield and adding to the power of this sensitive, emotionally resonant book.

Book Details

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