Thursday, November 4, 2010

How To Be an American Housewife

How To Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway

Summary from Goodreads

How to Be an American Housewife is a novel about mothers and daughters, and the pull of tradition. It tells the story of Shoko, a Japanese woman who married an American GI, and her grown daughter, Sue, a divorced mother whose life as an American housewife hasn't been what she'd expected. When illness prevents Shoko from traveling to Japan, she asks Sue to go in her place. The trip reveals family secrets that change their lives in dramatic and unforeseen ways. Offering an entertaining glimpse into American and Japanese family lives and their potent aspirations, this is a warm and engaging novel full of unexpected insight.

My Thoughts

This is a wonderful debut novel from Margaret Dilloway. The first half of the book is told through Shoko's eyes as she grows up in Japan and eventually becomes a war bride. Shoko moves to America with her husband where they raise a family. There is much conflict in the lives of Shoko and her children due to the differences in cultures. Eventually as she grows older she wants to go home to make amends with her brother. Due to an illness she can no longer travel, so in her place she sends her daughter, Sue and granddaughter, Helena. The second part of the book is told through Sue's eyes as she travels to Japan with her daughter, Helena in search of Taro, Shoko's estranged brother. The descriptions of Japan are beautiful. The characters in the book are well developed and intriguing. This is a great story of family and the secrets they can sometimes hold, of the bonds between mother and daughter, and also a story of forgiveness. In the beginning of each chapter is a little blurb from a fictional book called How To Be An American Housewife. Dilloway based this on a book she found that her father had given to her mother entitled The American Way of Housekeeping. I found these little blurbs quite amusing and a great introduction to each chapter. Margaret Dilloway is great story teller and I hope she will be writing more stories like this. This is a beautiful story and I highly recommend it!

I received this book for my honest opinion from Putnam through LT Early Reviewers.


  1. Thanks for reviewing this book. I have heard about it before but this was a really good and helpful review.

  2. Lovely review of what sounds like a lovely book :)
    I love mother-daughter stories, and I like that it has the added bonus of the interesting setting.

    Thanks for the review!

  3. I really enjoyed this book, too! I liked Shoko's story more than Sue's, but I grew to love Sue by the end.

    I hope it's okay to link to your review on War Through the Generations.

  4. Anna absolutely feel free to link to my review!

    Thank you all for stopping by and commenting!

  5. I really want to read this book-- maybe I need to nominate it for one of my book clubs.

  6. This sounds like something I would really like, and am adding to my book wish list. Thanks for the great review, Beth.

  7. I absolutely loved this book! It was so thoughtful, lyrical and moving. I adored Shoko's character and was mesmerized by her early life. One of my favorite reads of 2010! Glad you loved it, too!


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