Young Adult Lit/Crit

March 1, 2008

Samurai Shortstop by Alan Gratz

Filed under: Look What I'm Reading for Book Club! — traverse02 @ 9:40 pm

We’ve discussed in class how it can be hard to get male students to read. Well, this is the book that will do it. I hate baseball and I found this to be very compelling, but that may be due to my extreme interest in Japanese culture. The story is set in 1890 and follows a boarding school student, Toyo, who is obsessed with baseball and whose family background is ingrained in the ways of the samurai. Since the samurai culture has been outlawed by the emperor of Japan, many noble warriors take their own lives by committing seppuku (suicide, a noble death for a defeated samurai). Toyo’s family feels the effects of this firsthand when his uncle commits seppuku. The novel concerns Toyo’s search for acceptance from his teammates on the baseball field and from his father, who is upset that his son insists on playing baseball, something he views as symbolic of the decay of Japanese tradition in the face of Western influence. The baseball scenes are action packed and Gratz writes his characters with real heart. Any writer who can get me interested in a story about baseball is good, in my opinion.



  1. Sounds like a winner. I remember Ray H’s really liking this novel last semester. I’m glad you shared it with us Raph. KES P.S. I can still remember one of my students who had a real interest in all things Japanese as well. I wish I had had this novel then!!

    Comment by sunyprof — March 2, 2008 @ 6:17 pm

  2. Raph,
    This book sounds really intriguing…of course that’s probably because I love baseball! I would be interested in reading about the Japanese culture because of the baseball stuff in it. I bet a lot of kids who wouldn’t be tempted to pick up a book about the culture history of Japan would get drawn in by the sports and learn about a whole new topic. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by katefrazer — March 5, 2008 @ 9:27 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: