Author(s): Margaret DillowayDownload
A lively and surprising novel about a Japanese woman with a closely guarded secret, the American daughter who strives to live up to her mother’s standards, and the rejuvenating power of forgiveness. How to Be an American Housewife is a novel about mothers and daughters, and the pull of tradition. It tells the story of Shoko, a Japanese woman who married an American GI, and her grown daughter, Sue, a divorced mother whose life as an American housewife hasn’t been what she’d expected. When illness prevents Shoko from traveling to Japan, she asks Sue to go in her place. The trip reveals family secrets that change their lives in dramatic and unforeseen ways. Offering an entertaining glimpse into American and Japanese family lives and their potent aspirations, this is a warm and engaging novel full of unexpected insight.
Some Reviews: 1402 in Goodreads.com
One of the most beautiful books I’ve read in some time, How to Be an American Housewife touches themes of family and specifically mother-daughter relationships in a way that feels authentic and truthful, rather than contrived and preachy. The story focuses on Shoko and is largely written in her voice, but Dilloway’s ability to switch narrators into the voice of Shoko’s daughter, Sue, is done smoothly and adds, rather than distracts, from the story. It gives an interesting view of Japanese-American relations after World War II, of emigration, assimilation and love. For much of the relationship between Shoko and Sue, there seems a disconnect between intention and tone in communication. It got me thinking that while themes and wisdom are universal, there often are different expressions across generations and cultures, one which can be misinterpreted, often in the negative. It reminded me of my own experiences with family as differences across time and space can lead to friction even in the presence of great love and respect. Heartbreaking in some parts and heart warming in others, this is the kind of book which makes me love life again.
So first I must admit, I love a good historical piece story. This one was from world war II from the nuclear bomb in Japan to present day. I loved all the popular products used growing up in America! And the stories reveals the prejudice views of people of Japanese and Americans as well as what the children of these blended families went through! I especially liked the little tidbits of information on the handbook, How to be an American Housewife. Some made me giggle like don’t get fat husbands like a petite skinny woman to walk on their back!
But it told real information about the struggles of people, like when her and her friend were studying to become American citizens. Hello, this part is true, it is a hard test, I helped an immigrant study and for the test and I remember saying I didn’t need to know this in history or we didn’t learn this in such detail.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story of a woman coming to America and trying to blend in and deal with her health and the past!
I really loved this book! Told through the voice of a Japanese woman who marries an American soldier, then later through her daughter, I liked both voices equally. I identified with both mother and daughter. I was fascinated by the Japanese culture throughout the book, which surprised me. I am usually not a fan of books that involved Asian culture, but this book presented this culture in such a way that made me want to learn more about the religion and the customs as a whole
The one complaint I have about the book is that the American husband was supposed to be a Mormon. The writer did not seem to understand the LDS religion or culture except for misconceptions and rumors. I don’t know why she chose this religion for him to be, but I think she would have been better off choosing something a little more mainstream.
This is the story of Shoko, a Japanese woman who married Charlie, an American serviceman stationed in Japan during the post WWII occupation, with her parents’ blessing and her brother Taro’s scorn. Sixty years later, Shoko’s heart is failing and she wants to reconcile with Taro before she dies. Unable to travel back to Japan, she sends her daughter Sue in her place.
There was a lot here that resonated with me, since my parents mirror Shoko and Charlie, although my family didn’t have the secrets or scandal that Shoko had to contend with, nor did anyone get disowned. But Dilloway does a good job portraying the particular alienation of a mixed family — both within and outside of the family — in post-war America, even though that’s not really the focus of her book. Overall, I liked it a lot; however, the ending struck me as a little contrived. I see a lot of people criticizing this book for not being literary enough and I’m not really sure why they think it should be. It’s a solid piece of contemporary fiction.
How to Be an American Housewife is an excellent book about a young Japanese woman who marries a young American G.I in hopes of leaving Japan for the United States in search of a better future. Fifty years later this woman longs to return to Japan in order to reconcile her estranged relationship with her brother. When her health prevents her from going to Japan her daughter Sue and grandaughter Helena go to Japan in her place.
This is a wonderful story of both the past as well as the future. I could barely put this book down it was so good. Although this book is not a long book it tells a remarkably complex story with great detail and emotion. This is an easy an enjoyable read, one that I highly recomend. If you enjoyed Digging To America or Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet this book is definately for you. I could’nt help but become emotionally attached to both the main characters.
Although the mother and daughter portrayed in this story are seemingly very different from one another as the story evolves you gain a new perspective on the complexity of thier relationship. I don’t want to spoil the story by saying to much so all I will say is that the choices this woman made when she was a young woman haunted her the rest of her life. I was impressed with this books ending. Sometimes the only way to set oneself free from ones secretes is to expose them. I also found it symbolic that what the mother in this story was running from her entire life was in the end what her own daughter turned to.
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