I Am Canada: Blood and Iron by Paul Yee (Published by Scholastic Canada, September 1, 2010)
Fourteen-year-old Heen and his father must leave their home in China and travel far across the sea to Canada to work on building the transcontinental railroad. The family business has been lost to gambling debts, and there are not enough jobs in China. On the day Heen leaves home, he begins writing in a diary given to him as a parting gift from his schoolteacher.
The journey across the sea is long and miserable, and many people are sick. Heen resents his father for continuing to gamble, even after losing the family store because of gambling debts. When they arrive in Canada, Heen finds the work much more difficult than he expected. The Chinese workers must work long hours for less pay than the white workers. The conditions are dangerous and many men are hurt or killed.
I love the similar Dear Canada series from the same publisher, written from the viewpoints of young girls in Canadian history, so I was interested to try the new I Am Canada series, which is similar but from a male viewpoint. The historical information seemed really well researched and I loved the voice of the narrator, Heen. The book really seemed like it could be the diary of a boy his age. At first he was a rather humorous narrator, giving nicknames to all the people he encountered based on their characteristics. However, the story soon became more serious and tragic, showing the horrible working conditions the Chinese laborers had to endure. If you enjoyed the Dear Canada series or historical fiction in general, I think you will enjoy this book.