The Buddha In The Attic by Julie Otsuka - 129 pages
In eight incantatory sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces the picture brides’ extraordinary lives, from their arduous journey by boat, where they exchange photographs of their husbands, imagining uncertain futures in an unknown land; to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; to their backbreaking work picking fruit in the fields and scrubbing the floors of white women; to their struggles to master a new language and a new culture; to their experiences in childbirth, and then as mothers, raising children who will ultimately reject their heritage and their history; to the deracinating arrival of war.
My Review: 2.5 stars
This is a hard book to review. On one hand I was in awe at the authors ability to use the “we” tense or the first person plural, but on the other hand I found it monotonous and overwhelming abrupt. I so wish that the detail and specific observations could have been edited so the book’s focus and girth would of been, instead, on a select group of women and their individual stories. Obviously, the author intended on a quick read that hits hard and puts you in the world of the Japanese immigrants with no prettying up, just the harsh reality of their lives, their children’s lives and so on. I’d call this book more of a novella or a long poem based on the repetitiveness of the sentence’s beginnings. It’s a book worth discussing but not one I’d recommend to the average reader.
Quotes I liked:
- "A girl must blend into a room; she must be present without appearing to exist."
- "We cooked for them. we cleaned for them. We helped them chop wood. But it was not we who were cooking and cleaning and chopping, it was somebody else. And often our husbands did not even notice we'd disappeared."
- "Many of us dismissed the rumors as rumors but found ourselves spreading them- wildly, recklessly, and seemingly against our own will-nonetheless.
Tags: 2013, Historical Fiction, Asian, Japan, Book Club
Labels: 2013, Asian, Book Club, Historical Fiction, Japan