Amy Moritz's Reviews > How to Be an American Housewife

How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway
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Aug 27, 11

Read in August, 2011

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.
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Julie Limbaugh While reading, I definately felt that Shoko was too hard on Sue, not understanding of her. (The cookie-baking comes to mind..) By the end of the book, I realized I was thinking of my own American upbringing, and had forgotten about the cultural divide. Sue was raised in America, and even with a Japanese mother, she was influenced by her peers. Now, as my relationship with my own mother continues to deteriorate, I wonder more and more about intentions. You're right, the lack of communication, for whatever reason can cause a tremendous disconnect. I loved this book.


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