“A charming read with characters who come to life on the page—and who live for a cause whose urgency shines through the story.” – Booklife Review
Tessa Walker is a veterinarian with a strong, emotional connection to animals. As a teen, she witnessed the brutal slaughter of dolphins, and as an adult, she decides to do something about it. She leaves her home in Los Angeles and travels to Japan to speak out for them, but little does she know that she is embarking on an adventure that will change her life forever. From the urban metropolis of Tokyo to the historic Kyoto to the culinary city of Osaka, and the seaside town of Taiji, Tessa is determined to help Japanese activists stand up for her beloved mammals.
Along the way, the friendships and bonds that she builds with people in Japan, and the unconditional love of a stranger named Toshiro, open her eyes to a complicated society of conventions and traditions. Yet, her limited knowledge of the language and customs doesn’t deter her from taking on a dangerous mission that could land her in jail.
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Read an Excerpt from The American Outsider
At the Japanese garden, Tessa watched butterflies drink the nectar of flowers. She fed the fish in the koi pond and stood on a bridge to take several shots of the picturesque scenery. Less shaken, she headed to the French garden she had heard so much about and began sauntering down a sycamore-lined path. She sat on a bench and pulled out her beautifully wrapped bento box, chopsticks, and jasmine tea. Inside, the box cradled an artistically arranged mini-feast of multigrain rice, white rice, marinated tofu, and colorful vegetables. It almost looked much too pretty to eat. As she enjoyed her meal and drank her fragrant tea, Tessa took in her surroundings. A mother pushed a toddler in a stroller and carried her younger child in a strap wrapped around her. An elderly man sat at a bench and sketched the landscape. Two trendy-looking girls wearing miniskirts and hats chatted and sniggered. A group of middle-aged women used fanciful umbrellas to keep the sun from aging their flawless complexions. Showing off one’s legs by wearing miniskirts was common in Japan, but showing one’s shoulders and cleavage was taboo. Wearing hats and using umbrellas was favored because having a fair complexion was important and desirable for many Japanese women. Tessa, on the other hand, loved the sun and a good tan. Funny, how everyone’s perspective is so different, she thought. When she finished eating, Tessa placed her trash in a plastic bag and put it in her handbag. In Japan, it was rare to see public trash cans. People carried around small plastic bags to put their trash in until they could discard it at home. To outsiders, Japan’s trash etiquette is complex and one of the reasons why landlords do not like to rent apartments to foreigners.