I didn't know this before, but G.L. Tysk is a friend of a friend. My friend Hannah was talking about a debut novel her friend had written and I thought it sounded right up my alley.
Little known fact: The first 'adult' book I read was in seventh grade and it was a Christian historical fiction. Thank to that first book I have loved historical fiction ever since.
The Sea-God at Sunrise by G.L. Tysk is a historical fiction set in Japan in the 1840's and is about a pair of brothers and the third mate of a whaling ship. When all are put in a situation that none expected they are all faced with the same ordeal – how do you remain true to who you are when you are removed from everything you know.
In the 1800's Japan is still in extreme isolation by choice and has nothing to do with any foreigners, while they have no Navy they still patrol their shores and prevent outsiders from landing.
In the beginning of the book we are introduced to Shima and Takao, two young brothers who are Japanese fishermen. They have been shipwrecked and drift to shore on a deserted island. Unfortunately the island is lacking in almost all resources and the brothers are in desperate shape. They have lost all hope and are close to dying when they are found by the crew of the whaling ship Archer.
Japan’s isolationism presents a problem for the crew of the Archer when they try to return Shima and Takao to their native country. Takao has taken to the ship and isn’t sure he wants to leave while Shima has remained hesitant to join a crew where none of them speak his language. But when they are rejected by their countrymen they are both devastated and must learn how to survive in an unfamiliar situation.
Added to this is the story of Third Mate Daniel Ellis and his unforeseeable climb in rank during their voyage.
I would rate this book a 4 out of 5.
I loved this book; it was a different genre than I have been reading lately and was a nice break from my usual books. This book is based off of the true story of Nakahama Manjiro though it seems that Takao’s story is closer to Manjiro’s even if The Sea-God at Sunrise was written from Shima’s point of view.
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi – While this book really doesn’t have a whole lot in common with the Sea-God at Sunrise they do both take place on ships…. Other than that, I seriously loved this book as a kid and if you haven’t read it yet, you should.
Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus – This book is the story of Nakahama Manjiro. It was written in 2010 and was a Newbery Honor winner in 2011.