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The Yokota Officers Club

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  1,078 ratings  ·  147 reviews
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, regimented Air Force Major father, but grounded in their mother’s particular brand of humor, Bernie’s family was destined for military greatness during the glory days of the mid-’50s. ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published October 29th 2002 by Ballantine Books (first published June 19th 2001)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  1,078 ratings  ·  147 reviews

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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 13, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"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, regimented Air Force Major father, but grounded in their mother’s particular brand of humor, Bernie’s family was destined for military greatness during the glory days of the mid-’50s. But in Base life, where an unkempt lawn is cause for reassignment, one fateful misstep changed the Roots’ world forever. " ...more
Joanne Kelleher
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was the book club selection at my library. I did not know what to expect, which is unusual for me; I usually choose my books purposefully.
That being said, I was surprised by how much I liked this book! As you can read in the summaries, the story is told through the eyes Bernadette Root, a military brat who is returning home to the Kadena military base after a year away at college.
The author, Sarah Bird, was a military brat herself and she gives an authentic account of what it's like for an
Paula Hess
May 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Life as a teen living on a military base in Okinawa Japan during the 50's and 60's. Little too much description for me.
Sep 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 01, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my all time favorites and one of the few books I've read more than once. Bird writes with humor & gusto and brings all her characters to life. When Bernie dances to Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl" one can just feel the beat, hear the music.
There is tremendous insight into the historical periods of the U.S. military presence in Japan.
And when Bernie says that everyone in her family has "one thing," the last sentence sums up the book perfectly. "My one thing is dancing. A long
Aug 05, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Apr 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Excellent novel about an Air Force brat's childhood in Japan and the secrets swirling around her family.
Jan 07, 2010 rated it liked it
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.
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is excellent for “military brats” who are, or have been, part of the nomadic tribe of kids wandering the globe in support of a parent’s career in the US armed forces. It’s really an odd way to grow up, moving from state to state or even to another country with no anchor in one place for very long. It seems completely normal when you’re in the middle of this lifestyle, until you’re removed from it and then realize that most people are from somewhere while you’re seemingly from both ...more
Becki Basley
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Poor Bernie. A military brat given freedom to attend a college in the United States while her dysfunctional family is stationed in Okinawa. Her father a former pilot now bitter desk jockey and her mother former free spirit now military officer wife who bulks at towing the line and following the informal chain of command among the military officer wives. Add to the mix a bunch of siblings including on that don’t like Bernie much and let the adventure begin!
After winning a dance contest Bernie is
Jul 06, 2017 rated it liked it
3 stars. I both hated and loved this book. It was definitely nostalgic, so very nostalgic, being that I'm a military brat that grew up in Okinawa. The descriptions were sometimes so spot on that I felt like I was transported back to my childhood. Those were the parts I loved. The parts I hated were the portrayals of the locals and Japan. I guess I'm biased on this end though. Seriously though, the descriptions of them as a whole were a little simple and offensive. Overall, I'm glad I read this. ...more
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Having recently returned from my first visit to Japan, I really enjoyed the local color, even with the decades time difference. I also raised my children in a military family and have a daughter married to an Air Force pilot, so some of the lifestyle descriptions resonated as well. Often I felt as though I was reading a memoir rather than a piece of fiction, so it was interesting to read the conversation with the author at the end and learn that there was indeed a lot of her own experience woven ...more
Tonya Lowery St. John
This book really hit home. It is a partially autobiographical novel about a young woman who grows up in an Air Force family. She spent 4 years of her childhood at Yokota AFB during the post-war period and there is a mystery about what happened there. The author does a great job of capturing many of the trials, tribulations and triumphs that come with being a military family and she does it from the child's perspective. The characters were vivid and believable and the descriptions were great. I ...more
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
The "exposition" part of this book, which was essentially the first half, could have been half as long. As a non-military person, it was interesting to read about base life, but even I could tell that the military culture here was a bit overdone. And in the end, the payoff wasn't good enough for all of that setup.
Also, there are some pretty problematic aspects of the book/certain characters that are never addressed and it's pretty alarming.
May Grider
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I must have read this book not long after it was published in 2002 and still remember it 18 years later. It grabbed me more than something I’d categorize as chick lit. Possibly because I’m older and could relate to the time period better than some reviewers. Or possibly because I hadn’t read much chick lit at the time. This is the book that sh/h/b made into a movie, not The Boyfriend School!
Jan 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Ok, enjoyed the writing and the story, but the whole book kind of seemed to be about nothing, and the ending with all its weird smell poetry writing was kind of a let-down. Like the whole book's climax was about something that happened when she was 10. 4* for most of the book and the writing style, 2* for the disappointing ending that had nothing to do with the protagonist.
Moira Allbritton
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
Enjoyed the glimpse at military family life that we have not gotten to experience, both overseas and historical.
Initially, a little difficult to get into the story (especially with chronology skipping back and forth). Author did a great job letting reader feel the strain of language between characters as well as child perspective of adult issues.
Jul 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Loved the imagery and historical detail. Felt like I really got an inside look at the family and military families of that era, as well as reconstruction/Cold War Japan which was fascinating. Fit well in the continuum with having just watched Hacksaw ridge. Something really bothersome and less enjoyable about how long the issue festered unresolved though.
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A near-perfect picture of an Air Force family stationed abroad in the 1960s. Sarah Bird gets the lingo, soundtrack, dynamics, weirdness, even the smells just right. I feel as though our families must have crossed paths, or moved into a house the other had just vacated, on our trek around the globe. There's a hell of a story here, too. A must read for military brats. Four and a half stars.
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Having lived next door to “Navy Families” in San Diego from 1964-1974 this book was spot on about Military life for the families. Well written, good story telling and I loved the characters. Now that I have finished the book I am missing them!
Dec 24, 2018 rated it did not like it
Do you ever read something and when you are done you think to yourself WTF did I just read? That's this book in a nutshell. I wasn't going to finish it but I was curious about Fumiko so I finished it. This book is just all over the place and totally crazy. The whole Bobby character was fruit loops.
Lois Blanco
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think the Sarah Bird wrote a good representation of life as a military dependent, especially isolated in a foreign country - although I have absolutely no experience on which to base such an opinion
Dawn Scott
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful writing style. Full of 60s and 70s pop culture. To fully enter the setting, I sat next to my Alexa Dot and had Alexa play me every song mentioned in the book.
Suzanne Landstrom
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Good solid book about what it is like being a military brat overseas.
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing

If you have ever lived on a military base overseas or been a military wife or dependent, this is a good read. I've had high and low feelings about being considered a "dependent" but the adventures outweighed all of that. Some of my favorite lines from the book "I wasn't the one who enlisted...Honey, don't kid yourself, you signed up the day you let him put that ring on your finger" and Americana in a concentration known to few who have not experienced the overseas military base"
B. Jay
Sep 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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"Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen"
My previous novels are:
Above the East China Sea
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 winner of a Meryl Streep Screenwriting Award; an NPR Moth storyteller; an Indie's Pick; a humor columnist for Texas Monthly for eight years.
Awards include a Dobie-Paisano