By Samantha Pak
Northwest Asian Weekly
“How to Be an American Housewife”
By Margaret Dilloway
Berkley Books, 2010
Growing up, Shoko was very close with her brother Taro. But when she got older and decided to marry an American GI and leave Japan after the end of World War II, Taro was not happy about it — among other things.
After half a century with an ocean between them, Shoko plans to return to Japan and reconcile with Taro.
But a chronic heart condition (most likely caused by radiation from the atomic bombs dropped by Americans) prevents her from traveling, so she asks her daughter Sue to go in her place. So Sue and her teenage daughter Helena travel to Japan to connect with a branch of their family they’ve never met.
During their trip, the mother-daughter duo meets a number of extended relatives in addition to Taro. And through these meetings, they learn more about Shoko and her life in Japan.
What I liked about “Housewife” is the balance between the past and present. Read the full story