Samurai Gets a Starred Review

>> Friday, March 17, 2006

My first official review is in, and it's a starred review from Booklist!

"Growing up in Tokyo in the 1890s, after the Emperor outlawed the samurai tradition of his ancestors, Toyo was not trained in the old disciplines. He must find his own path between the old ways and the new ones, which are symbolized for Toyo by the sport he loves: baseball. In the riveting opening scene, Toyo watches his father help Toyo's beloved uncle Koji perform seppuku, a samurai suicide ritual involving disembowelment and decapitation. Soon after this disturbing event, Toyo becomes a boarder at the most esteemed high school in Tokyo. His high hopes are tempered by a brutal hazing inflicted on the entering class and the ongoing cruelty of the students in power. Under his father's tutelage, Toyo's growing understanding of traditional Samurai arts enables him to grow in skill and self-discipline both on and off the playing field. An engaging protagonist in a harsh, difficult situation, Toyo must work to earn the respect of his father and his teammates, but he will have readers' sympathies from the beginning. Unfolding through the convincing portrayals of individuals in turmoil, the story culminates as most baseball novels do-in the big game. An appended author's note discusses Gratz's research and lists his sources. A memorable chronicle of boys' inhumanity to boys, and a testament to enduring values in a time of social change." - Carolyn Phelan



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