Growing up in a time between wars, Sam Hamada finds that the culture of his native Japan is never far from his heart. Sam is rapidly learning the code of the samurai in the late 1930s on the lush Hawaiian Islands, where he is slowly coming into his own as a son and a man.
But after Sam strikes out for California, where he meets Keiko, the beautiful young woman destined to be the love of his life, he faces crushing disappointment---Keiko’s parents take her back to Japan, forcing Keiko to endure their attempts to arrange her marriage. It is a trial complicated by how the Japanese perceive her---as too Americanized to be a proper Japanese wife and mother---and its pain is compounded by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which ignites the war that instantly taints Sam, Keiko, and their friends and family as enemies of the state.
Sam himself is most caught between cultures when, impressed by his knowledge of Japanese, the U.S. Army drafts and then promotes Sam, sending him on a secret mission into a wartime world of madness where he faces the very real risk of encountering his own brother in combat.
From the tragedies of the camps through to the bombing of Hiroshima, where Sam’s mother and siblings live, Sam’s very identity both puts his life at risk and provides the only reserve from which he can pull to survive. In this beautifully written historical epic about a boy in search of manhood, a girl in search of truth, and two peoples divided by war, Sam must draw upon his training, his past, and everything he has learned if he’s ever to span his two cultures and see Keiko, or his family, again.