A famous Chinese proverb reads, "The palest ink is better than the clearest memory." With her memoir finally published in English and Chinese, Homare Endo's ink firmly spells out a call for historical reconciliation.

Endo was 7 years old when she endured the 1948 Siege of Changchun, in which Communist forces encircled the northeastern Chinese city to coerce the final surrender of Nationalist soldiers. Between 150,000 and 300,000 civilians died in the siege — up to an estimated 80 percent of the population.

When she and her family were finally set free after months of starvation, they were nurtured by the very army that had contained them. Eventually settling in Tianjin, south of Beijing, Endo's father continued the humanitarian work that had brought him to China before the war, manufacturing an antidote to opium. The family finally returned home to Japan in 1953 when a cease-fire in the Korean War made the Sea of Japan safe to travel again.