How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway
“As a young Japanese lady, you have been schooled in all the way of housekeeping. Your high school taught you how to arrange flowers, the fine art of fan dancing, and how to launder and store kimonos.
Now that you have married an American, you might be at a loss as to certain American customs. How to iron a Western shirt. How to make a bed properly. If you were lucky enough to have worked as a maid in a Western-style establishment, you may already know these things. But for those of you who do not, or do not know the details of American culture, this book will provide all the higher education that you need.”
How to Be an American Housewife follows the story of Shoko, a young Japanese woman trying to survive during WWII. Shoko’s father believes that her best opportunity in life would be to marry an American GI and leave Japan. Shoko gets a job at a hotel where many GI’s are staying. She even makes a portfolio of her suitors to get the input from her father on who to “woo”.
With her father’s blessing and her brother’s grave disapproval, Shoko moves to American with her American husband, Charlie. Dilloway’s book follows Shoko as she tries to acclimate to life in America. Her only help is a book to guide her: How to Be an American Housewife.
The book bounces from Shoko’s past to her present. It’s many years later and Shoko wants to return to Japan to try to patch things up with her brother. Shoko’s poor health prevents her from traveling, so she enlists the help of her daughter, Sue, to travel on her behalf.
I enjoyed this book. It was really interesting learning about Shoko’s past in Japan and how she coped with culture shock as a new bride. Each chapter started with a passage from the “guide book” like the one above.
If you enjoy historical fiction wrapped in family bonds, you’ll be a fan of this book as well.
4 out of 5 stars