BookTalk: How to Be an American Housewife
March 13, 2012
Shoko, the main character in Margaret Dilloway's novel How to Be an American Housewife, is based on the author’s mother, a real life Japanese war bride. She tells her story with humor, courage, and a never-give-up spirit that I loved. I didn’t expect this character, a Japanese woman of the 1940s, torn from her homeland, devastated by war, and thrust into an alien culture knowing very little English to show such pure, unadulterated spunk.
The second section of the novel is told from the point of view of Shoko’s daughter Sue. She’s a single mother having her own troubles being an American housewife in the 1990s. When Shoko’s health keeps her from making her first trip back to Japan in decades, she asks Sue to go in her place. The trip reveals family secrets that change all of their lives.
I listened to Laurel Merlington read the novel in the audiobook production. She does a great job with the many characters in the book, male and female, all with subtly different accents, both Japanese and American. I’m sure reading the book is as enjoyable as listening to it, but Japanese is one accent I wouldn’t have done justice to in my head. It’s a great listen.