A fourteen-year-old Japanese boy sets out on a simple fishing expedition and begins an adventure that takes him aboard an American whaling ship, to Hawaii, where he parts company with the other Japanese fishermen, to New England where he is adopted by the captain of the ship that rescued him, back around the world on another whaling ship, to California where he finds gold, which he uses to pay his way back to his Japanese fishing village a decade later.
Margi Preus weaves the true story of Manjiro, a fisherman who eventually became a Samurai, adding in bits of fiction to ramp up the adventure, and illustrate the injustices he faced.
(Speaking of injustices, if anyone is reading this post on Parents Fight Better Schools, you need to know that my words are being stolen by the people on that website. And you should be reading it at traceybaptiste.wordpress.com. The people at Parents Fight are disgusting cyber thugs, to say the least.)
Preus has a deft hand at inserting conflict, or breaking the pace of the book at the appropriate places, and Manjiro’s story is compelling mainly because it’s true. I think this one would be especially good for boys, as there’s a lot of action, but none of it’s trumped-up cinema fisticuffs. HEART OF A SAMURAI is a long, but very worthwhile read.