Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Book Review: "How to Be an American Housewife"

"How to Be an American Housewife" by Margaret Dilloway
First published in 2010
My rating: 3 out of 5
(image source)

"How to Be an American Housewife" is a mother-daughter tale of sacrifice, hope and what it means to be a Japanese-American.

Shoko grew up in Japan and married an American sailor stationed there after World War II. They had two children and, after Charlie retired from the Navy, eventually settled down in San Diego. Now Shoko's elderly and suffering from an enlarged heart, possibly caused by radiation from the bombing of Nagasaki when she was a girl. Her one wish, to go back to Japan and mend her relationship with her long-estranged brother, is impossible due to her rapidly declining health.

Sue -- or Suiko -- is Shoko's daughter. She's a single mother who slaves away at her paper-pushing office job to make ends meet, never giving thought to pursuing the dreams she used to have before her unexpected pregnancy and subsequent divorce. But when she gives in to her mother's pleas to go to Japan in her place, her life changes dramatically.

The women's stories are entwined throughout the novel, which explores the intricacies of family -- particularly the mother-daughter relationship -- and compares how Shoko and Sue see the roles of mother and daughter in their different circumstances and generations.

The cultural references in the book were interesting -- especially Shoko's flashbacks to her childhood and teen years in Japan -- but the rest of the novel was a bit of a downer. The plot didn't really grab me and I had trouble connecting with the characters. Books with a similar flavor that I'd recommend over this one include "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" by Jamie Ford and "The Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan.

Happy reading!

1 comment:

  1. Too bad it wasn't better. I have read the "Joy Luck Club" and enjoyed it. Interesting culture.


Thanks for stopping by! Comments make my day, and I read and appreciate every single one!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...