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The Yokota Officers Club

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  901 Ratings  ·  125 Reviews
Chicago Tribune

After a year away at college, military brat Bernadette Root has come “home” to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, to spend the summer with her bizarre yet comforting clan. Ruled by a strict, regi
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published June 19th 2001 by Knopf (first published 2001)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,394)
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Morris Nelms
Reads like the author was paid by the word in some sections.
When she is writing about what she knows, it's good (military life, family life, the beauty of japan, the tour with the comedian, going away to college, etc.).
When she ventures into areas that she doesn't know, it's obvious. The book has two parts, and the division is unintentional. There is the part that rings true, and the part that doesn't ring true. Unfortunately, the part that was totally unconvincing is the central event
Joy Barnes
Aug 25, 2007 Joy Barnes rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: military wives
I chose to read this book because I’m currently living in Okinawa, Japan where part of the story takes place. Actually, at the time I was reading the part where the main character was on a plane from Okinawa, up to Tokyo, I was also on a plane taking the very same path. I think that’s why I enjoyed reading the book. The author shows a glimpse into military family life and the surroundings of Okinawa… some of the descriptions where dead-on and others were a bit exaggerated. The plot was good, but ...more
Jun 30, 2016 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-read
This novel was my book club's selection for September, chosen mostly because it takes place on Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, where many of us currently live. I had few ideas of what to expect from this book, but I closed its final pages glad that I'd taken the time to read it.

The Yokota Officers Club A Novel takes place in two decades: the present is during the Vietnam war era; the other is during the post-WWII occupation of Japan by Americans during the Cold War. From the perspective of so
Apr 01, 2007 steffie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I grew up on Air Force bases, and have always looked for a story that matches my childhood. This came somewhat close.

Unfortunately, the book was pretty much all details (the ramshackle military housing, Officer's wives, shopping for crap at the Commissary and the Base Exchange) and little else for me.

I try to care about Bird's characters. I really do. But, as with Alamo House, I just find so many of her characters predictable, one-dimensional, and just not funny (even though many are meant to m
Jan 17, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books ever. What made it even more special was a phone chat with Sarah Bird. A wonderfully personal story about her mother and the antics and tragedies that went on in her childhood with her father in the Air Force.

When the oldest daughter, Bernie, returns from college in the US to her family on Kadena AFB in Okinawa she is mortified to find that her mother (a nurse) used to drug her sisters and brothers on long car rides so they would sleep.

Great writing - great characters
Dec 30, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a great story for those of us who have been military brats/military family. I've been on both ends of the stick - a kid to an Air Force dad and both in the Air Force and married to a Navy guy. This story hits home for all of us and will be a good one for those who have not been military. The story is loosely based on the author's own childhood and if you read at the end of the book you will find a conversation between her, her mom, and sisters.

The story is about Bernie Root and her
I love Sara Bird and I think this is the best book of hers that I have read to date. I think she really went for literary quality this time, more than in past work: the hilarious, rollicking rides that all of her previous books have been. I did not laugh as much this time, but I did enjoy her descriptions and depth of characters more than I have before and that made up for the somewhat more serious tone of this novel. I also liked the fact that it was semi-autobiographical. I am just enough of a ...more
As a military spouse I enjoyed reading a book about another military dependent. The book was good but not great, IMO. The climax of the story was really interesting, but I feel like there was a lot of "filler" material to get to it that wasn't really central to the story. Overall I liked the novel and loved the story, but I think it could have been told a little better.
Ellyn Oaksmith
May 16, 2014 Ellyn Oaksmith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Get ready for a lot of compliments because Sarah Bird is one of my favorite laugh-out-loud, knows her way around a funny scene and a great sentence kind of writer. This book takes things even further away from her Texas books, all the way to Japan with the narrator, a twenty-something visiting her family stationed in Japan with the Air Force during a college summer break.

What follows is a heart-breaking history of the US, Japan and one fragile family bound together by love, betrayal and loss. I
A copy of "The Yokota Officers Club" came into my possession some years ago at a Friends of the Library book sale. You know the kind, $10 per bag (or cheaper on the last sale day) and so I only acquired it by default, marginal interest, marginal room in the bag! However, I really wanted to read Sarah Bird, Austin authoress and so it finally made it 'on deck'.

I loved the descriptive passages of military family life. I hated the passages of sisterly strife. I loved the descriptions of Fumiko, Japa
Nov 09, 2014 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This reads like a lightly fictionalized memoir, which it is. The "interview" Bird does at the end with her sister and mother make this clear. Bird really was a go-go dancer in Tokyo, really did travel with a guy like Bobby D., really was a shy Air Force brat stationed in Okinawa, with a father who flew dangerous recon missions over Russia, with a mother who was an outcast among the other military wives. The bratty-pretty little sister, Kit, is fictional. Is Fumiko fictional? She does not come up ...more
Jessica Leight
I came to this book via a backwards route: I read Above the East China Sea first, and then noticed that Sarah Bird had written another book about Japan and decided I might enjoy that one as well. Bird has a wonderful narrative voice, breezy and funny, but I didn't find this book to be particularly strong. The story is somewhat disjointed and the core mystery that lies at the center - the family's past with Fumiko - is rather underwhelming and doesn't fit into the broader story. There is also, fr ...more
Jan 07, 2010 Margie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Margie by: Margery
Recommended for Air Force dependents. It really captures the flavor of that milieu. It's not especially well-written, but it's not terrible either.
Jun 07, 2014 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Buried family secrets and childhood memories are what shy Bernadette hopes to uncover after she comes back from college and visits her military family now stationed at Okinawa. Immersing herself in the local culture reminds "Bernie" of her childhood in Japan, where her now dysfunctional family cites as the place where "it all went wrong". For reasons unknown her parents don't talk to each other anymore, her younger sister hates her more than ever, and Bernie is determined to learn what really ha ...more
Apr 17, 2008 Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent novel about an Air Force brat's childhood in Japan and the secrets swirling around her family.
Sherry Grussing
Jan 05, 2015 Sherry Grussing rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-it
For the most part, the book was okay, but there were times where it dragged. I did not enjoy the way it skipped around from one time period to another without warning. Another issue I had was with the military lingo. My husband is a retired LTC and even I had problems with the abbreviations. If the reader is not familiar with the military, I can see where that would be a big turn-off. There were Japanese phrases throughout the book and sometimes the author would "translate" them, but sometimes n ...more
Mar 18, 2012 Mmars rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed his book. Having little knowledge of life on a base - much less a base in another country, I learned a lot about what that would be like. I wonder whether the "information age" has cut down any on the boredom and isolation military kids grow up with. Certainly the outsider aspect of it doesn't change.

Bird writes the experience with one eye on the absurdity of the situation and the other on the psyche of the characters. One thing that's universal is trying to grow up within one's family q
B. Jay
Oct 04, 2010 B. Jay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book on the basis of having lived on a military base in Asia as a child, and the recommendation of a fellow "Army Brat" who had read it. I was wary that the setting would be secondary to a 'Little Women' plot, which would not fit in well with my usual diet of science fiction or comedy.
It is true that the main character does spend the bulk of the novel anguishing over her relationship with her parents and siblings in a way that threatened to lose my interest several times. The militar
Oct 13, 2007 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sarah Bird was one of my favorite authors when I was a wee young whippersnapper in the early nineties. Boyfriend School? Loved it. Alamo House? I lived it: the protagonist's college experience plus working in a library spoke to my life at the time. Plus, Bird was really funny and had an affection for society's misfits. And interwoven with the humor at the absurd characters was emotional depth; you could laugh at these people and be heartbroken at what happens to them. So when I ran across an ess ...more
This book was incredible. I had a really difficult time putting it down. It was so well written-- smart, witty, poignant, rich, riveting-- everything you could want from a novel. The characters were all so realistic and so multi-dimensional (with the exception of Bobby Moses, who is supposed to be a caricature, thus satirizing the USO concept of military life). I felt like I was there with the narrator, and that I was there in Japan, even though I've never been there. Bird's use of language, the ...more
Sharmyn (Lumsden) Lilly
The funniest book I've read. This is a must read about family relations in a very interesting environment. Having not grown up in a military family, I'd really never given a thought about such a life, but Sarah Bird made the environment and family relations so interesting - as she does in all the books of hers I've read. Add her to your list of authors to read.
Frederick Bingham
A novel about military brats set in the 1960s. Bernadette "Bernie' Root arrives after her freshman year of college in Okinawa, where her family is stationed. Her father is an Air Force officer who is shuffled from one base to another, dragging along his wife and 6 kids.They had been stationed at Yokota Air Base near Tokyo several years previous. During their stay, a maid named Fumiko worked for her family. The book insinuates all along that something mysterious and unhappy occurred between Fumik ...more
Listened to the audiobook from Recorded Books.

Narrated By: Carine Montbertrand

Sarah Bird authors brilliant, introspective novels of bittersweet reminiscence tempered with humor. The Yokota Officers Club is a tale both courageous and touching--a journey of the heart that speaks volumes of the transient, isolated lifestyle of military families. Having grown up at the Yokota Air Base in Japan, and having moved six times in the last eight years, Bernadette "Bernie" Root and her five siblings are qui
Jan 27, 2015 Christina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I had been able to attend my book club's discussion of this book. It was interesting to me to explore the different experiences of military brats and how interconnected the family dynamics were with base dynamics and the host countries even in the sliding tectonic plates of military assignments.
Dec 26, 2009 Mie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Our book club read for January 2010.

I got a good insight to how it must be living as an Air-Force family, moving around from base to base. All the difficulties with adjusting to new school and new friends. Mother "Moe" who has to find herself among her fellow military wife's and her friendship to their Japanise maid, Fumiko. Father "Mace" being the head of the family, out on military spy-missions most of the time, so mom has to be the one in charge at all times and trapped!
We look at the oldest
Erin Kessler
Jul 17, 2013 Erin Kessler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This was one of my favorite books that I've read recently. Maybe it's because I connected so easily with the main character Bernie. Bernie's home, or as close to home as she can get, from her first year of college for the summer, and as I'm in the same predicament, I could relate to some of the familial issues that Bernie encounters. However, Bernie's a military brat and most of the book takes place during the Vietnam war, while her family is stationed at Okinawa.
A balanced blend of everyday di
Mar 27, 2015 Jan rated it really liked it
Laugh out loud funny in parts! I had to read several parts out loud to my husband so he could join in! Scary to think that life was really like that such a short time ago ... but great to have someone captured the sights, sounds, smells, and language of a place in time.
John Orman
Dec 17, 2014 John Orman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I learned a lot about life as a "military brat" from Bird's book--and I was one! I lived on the same air base in Albuquerque that Sarah did, though at different times. This book is about the funny adventures of a young girl, "Bernie", a University of New Mexico student in Albuquerque, during her visit to her family then living on Kadena Air Force base on Okinawa.

In this fascinating coming of age novel, Bird describes the sorrows, secrets, and cover-ups that surface about the life of Bernie and h
Sierra Bailey
Loved it. This one should go on your list. A coming of age tale about the oldest daughter in a military family in the mid 50’s. Well written, great story. This is the one book out of the 7 on this list that you should choose.
Apr 23, 2010 Glenn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well, it had to happen. This is now my favorite book. For anyone that has been stationed on a military base, been part of a military or diplomatic life, this story will speak to you, especially if you spent time in Asia.

Bird's representations of situational language, from the comic to the profane are magnificent. Her sense of humor is wry and and her eye misses nothing in a scene. Every passage has a smell, a taste and a texture.

Even though the story takes place in Japan, it overlayed with my ch
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"Above the East China Sea"
My previous novels are:
Alamo House
Boyfriend School
Mommy Club
Virgin of the Rodeo
Yokota Officers Club
Flamenco Academy
How Perfect Is That
The Gap Year
I've been a columnist for Texas Monthly for the past eight years.
Awards include a Dobie-Paisano Fellowship; a National Magazine Award; Elle Magazine Readers Prize; People Magazines Page Turners; Barnes & Nobles Discover Gr
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