Review by Edan
Title: Heart of a Samurai
Author: Margi Preus
Publisher: Amulet Books
In 1841, 14 year old Manjiro and some other fishermen find themselves shipwrecked on a island in the waters far from there homeland, Japan. But soon they start to starve and become sick. Finally, they are rescued by an American whaling boat that is swarming with "barbarians". Manjiro become curious and learns all he can from these whalers and soon befriends the captain. Manjiro travels to America and lives with the captains family, going to school, helping out on the farm and trying to find way back to Japan. But Japan is in isolation and will probably kill him if he returns. Will Manjiro return to Japan and put his American knowledge to good use?
This book was based on a true story. That is what amazes me. Almost everything written in the book is true, and that is one reason I like this book. Manjiro is considered the first Japanese person to be in America, and his journey to get there, and back to Japan, is mind boggling. I cannot believe how far he went and the risks he took. The story feels like fiction, but at the same time it feels true and wonderful.
Preus did a great job describing his confusion and thoughts. The story took around 20 years, yet it all fit into this one book. The balance of action and time lapse is perfect and you can tell how Manjiro grows and ages. You can get swallowed into his thoughts and start to think like him. Heart of a Samurai is a inspiring book, full of adventure, perseverance and determination.