Caroline's Reviews > The Buddha in the Attic

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
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's review
Mar 11, 2012

really liked it
Read in March, 2012

In the early 20th Century, picture brides from Japan came to the Western coast of the United States to marry men they'd only known through photographs and letters. Most came from poor families seeking a better economic life in the United States, believing their picture husbands to be the doctors, engineers, successful businessmen they had professed to be in their letters. What greeted them when their ships docked were more often the same men in the photographs they had clutched in their hands for the entire journey, but many years older.

This book is divided into chapters of these women's lives. Their journey to the United States, their first nights as married women to men they didn't know and now didn't even like, their backbreaking work as planters or harvesters in the fields similar to the ones they had tried to escape from, or work as maids in big houses, their unfamiliarity with a new language and new culture, the birth of their children and their transfer to internment camps during WWII.

The passion, the fear, the confusion, the despair and the anger of these women come through clearly through paragraphs that are written so beautifully and poetically. The tumultuous voices of all these women leap in bursts or energy and at times quietly but always urgently from the pages of this book.

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