Book Review: How to be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway

18 Sep

How to Be an American HousewifeMy 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.

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