Sunday, April 21, 2013

Book Club: April

(Courtesy of GoodReads)

My birthday month for book club featured a delightful novel, The Buddah in the Attic by Julie Otsuka. The shortest of the ones we have read, this narrative flowed so easily that it could almost be considered more of conversational poetry rather than prose. The story follows many Japanese picture brides who are sent off to California and the neighboring areas for husbands. The book starts with boarding the ship for America, discussing the pictures their new husbands sent of themselves.

The women have varying experiences once in the United States, from marital styles to work places, the women strive to find their place in this new home. Eventually time progresses, and when Pearl Harbor happens, the government collects Japanese citizens and sends them to internment camps. Supposedly for Japanese protection as much as that of the average American citizen.

Otsuka’s work is well researched and has a similar theme to her earlier work, When the Emperor was Divine, which is the life of Japanese once they are interned. She bases the stories off of information from her own family, and those details of other people’s stories.

Several quotes I liked:

“Home was wherever our husbands were. Home was by the side of a man who had been shoveling up weeds for the boss for years.” pg. 25

“It is better to suffer ill than to do ill. You must give back whatever you receive.” pg. 69

“And even though we saw the darkness coming we said nothing and let them dream on.” pg. 79

The story reiterates how sometimes this country we call home that we believe is so great, can do some truly terrible things to people based on pure speculation. Unfortunately, history does tend to repeat itself.