Mike's Reviews > The Buddha in the Attic

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
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's review
Dec 14, 2011

really liked it

Some of us enjoy this book because we live(d) in Japan. Some of us enjoy this book because we know and respect Japanese people. Some of us relate personally to this book because we know Japanese people similar to the ones portrayed in the story. Some of us enjoy this book because we have Japanese friends. A few of us love this book because it tells stories that remind us of cherished Japanese friends. Some of us enjoy this story about two cultures becoming like one. And a few of us love this book because we know and love the inner beauty, serenity, honesty, and innate strength of Japanese women.

In a lyrical style replete with rich visual images, Ms. Otsuka weaves an engaging tale of human experience that transcends race and culture. The story begins with Japanese "picture brides" migrating to California in the early 1900s to meet their new husbands. It ends with the forced emigration of Japanese-Americans out of California "across the mountains" during World War II. In the middle we learn about their disappointments and triumphs, their challenges and adventures, and their determination and ingenuity as they adjusted to a life and culture they had never imagined.

The story does not center on a single protagonist. "Some of us" remain the central characters throughout the story's twenty-plus year timeline. Therein lies the novel's encompassing power and beauty. It is the tale not of a person, but of a people.

A must-read for anyone who loves Japan and Japanese.
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