One Hundred Million Hearts


281 pages
ISBN 0-676-97511-9
DDC C813'.54




Reviewed by Matt Hartman

Matt Hartman is a freelance editor and cataloguer, running Hartman Cataloguing, Editing and Indexing Services.


Sakamoto’s first novel, The Electrical Field (1998), was a finalist
for a Governor General’s award for fiction. This new work tells the
story of Miyo, a young Japanese-Canadian woman whose world is shattered
with the death of her father. Miyo and her stepmother, Setsuko, travel
from Toronto to Japan, where Miyo meets Hana, a sister she didn’t know
she had. The discoveries Miyo makes in Japan change her life in profound
ways. What she finds in Tokyo and in the Japanese countryside is a
different father—one, in fact, she denies again and again until the
truth of his life is made inescapable. During World War II, Miyo’s
father was a kamikaze pilot who survived. With this discovery comes a
realization of what the war meant for many Japanese: feelings of heroism
and ultimate allegiance. To be a kamikaze was to sacrifice—but only if
one was killed. To survive the war was worse than death; to the
Japanese, it was dishonour.

When Miyo meets Buddy, a man who also served, she is told: “Your
father served, just like I did, only I wasn’t tokko-tai, Special
Attack Forces. I was not kamikaze. But I sacrificed. He didn’t. You
think you know the way it is? What do you know?” What Miyo learns
during her journey is not just the truth about her father, but also the
truth of a culture and of a tradition, and how they continually
influence a person’s life.

Sakamoto writes with skill and sensitivity.


Sakamoto, Kerri., “One Hundred Million Hearts,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,