Connie's Reviews > How to Be an American Housewife

How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway
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Aug 05, 2011

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Read in August, 2011

This is a quick read and a pleasant one. It's the fictionalized story of the author's mother who had married an American serviceman and left her home country of Japan for the United States shortly after World War II. The prose is divided between mother and daughter as narrators. The most affecting part of the book for me was the differences between Japanese and American culture that are highlighted. For instance, Shoko, the mother, is told by her father to marry an American in order to obtain a stable future. The subplot is that Shoko is in love with Ronin, a Japanese man who was born in the Eta class, far below Shoko's station. Therefore, her relationship with Ronin cannot be allowed, and he is murdered by a jealous Japanese suitor when their relationship is discovered. Shoko is pregnant with Ronin's baby, and she tells her new American husband the truth about their son's genetic parentage after the baby is born in America. Charlie, Shoko's husband, takes the news rather well and raises the boy as his own. The couple later have a daughter, Suiko. When Shoko is facing heart surgery, she asks Suiko to go to Japan. There, Suiko is to find Shoko's brother, who had been estranged from Shoko ever since she married Charlie. Suiko finds a family and culture that she loves so much she decides to go there to teach English. Along the way, she and her mother find much greater mutual understanding and strengthen their sometimes rocky relationship. A really nice book.

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