My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
This book is about an elderly and ill Japanese woman, Shoko, who had a falling out with her brother many years ago and wants her daughter to go to Japan and make peace with him on her behalf. The book describes this falling out in Shoko’s youth and what her life was like from that point until the present, spanning some 60 years. Intermingled in the story are excerpts from a fictionalized book entitled “How to be an American Housewife”, written for Japanese woman marrying American men and moving to the United States.
I liked the premise of this story a lot and therefore my expectations were set pretty high. All of the elements of the characters and the relationships between them had such potential, but in the end it just didn’t go as deep as I think it could have. I was left wanting a bit more.
What the book did deliver was good overall. I thought the parts of the book describing Shoko’s time in Japan and assimilation was very interesting and ‘new’ to me. Using the excerpts from “How to Be an American Housewife” was creative and added some additional interest. When it came to Sue going to Japan on her mother’s mission, I liked how it highlighted her relationship with her daughter, but then I thought the ending to the book was rather rushed and unrealistic.
And let’s not overlook the fact that I made it to the end of the book (again: more on that later) which means it was concise enough to keep my attention but literal enough to make me feel (at least a little) enlightened.
My review: 1.5 out of 5 stars
I appear down right prudish compared to the main character of this novel, Ace Jones. Her boldness was not endearing at all. The girl is raw. Sure she’s chubby and has a biting sense of humor, but those assets were not well applied.
This book is not due for publication until February 2012 but I purchased it in July for 99 cents through Barnes and Noble and some special offer they had going for Nooks. I don’t know what the offer was exactly but I suspect the book was not through its final editing since I found lots of spelling and grammatical errors. Even with those, the story was a quick read – not too much thinking you need to do. I am really surprised it’s still being sent to store shelves, but based on the reviews some people really thought it was funny.
I feel like the author is a very shy person trying to write as a character who is her polar opposite. It’s as if the character could only be developed based on what someone would see from the outside, which is how a shy person would see someone like Ace.
As someone who has been described as both sassy and obnoxious I’ve found that ‘obnoxious’ is used before someone knows me and ‘sassy’ is used once they get used to my style and discover my good qualities. Ace stayed as obnoxious in my opinion because the book never got past those aspects of her personality to make her anything but.
Her behavior was funny on pages 1-5 but no longer funny after that. I will give credit and say I was able to finish it (more on my issues with that later) but I can’t say I was all that proud of my accomplishment it in the end.