Book Review: How To Be An American Housewife

Title: How To Be An American Housewife
Author: Margaret Dilloway
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Publication Date: August 5, 2010
Hardcover: 288 pages
ISBN: 978-0399156373
Genre: Fiction

From the Publisher:

A lively and surprising novel about a Japanese woman with a closely guarded secret, the American daughter who strives to live up to her mother’s standards, and the rejuvenating power of forgiveness.

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 Review:

How To Be An American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway is a beautiful story of love, family and traditions encompassing four generations of women.  The novel is told through the beautiful voice of Shoko who takes the reader through her life in Japan, her culture, heritage and how she came to be an American wife of a naval officer.  The novel tells of her daughter Suiko and her daughter Helena, who at Shoko’s request, travel to Japan, a culture Suiko “Sue” never identified with before her visit.  It is a story of the struggles she faced, her joys and sorrows and her dreams for a mother-daughter bond with her daughter Sue and her desire to be reunited with her brother Taro with whom she has not had contact for fifty years.  Dilloway beautifully captures not only the Japanese culture before, during and after WWII, but also the American culture after Pearl Harbor and what it was like to enter the country as a foreign bride.  Interspersed through the book are excerpts from the fictional handbook, How To Be An American Housewife, which was to help Japanese women assimilate into the western culture.  While Dilloway’s novel is primarily a work of fiction, she does indeed base several of Shoko’s experiences and mannerisms on her mother’s life and captures the cultural thinking of the time.  How To Be An American Housewife is a beautiful, tender novel rich in character and depth.  I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a beautiful, heart-warming, uplifting novel.

About the Author:

Margaret Dilloway was inspired by her Japanese mother’s experiences when she wrote this novel, and especially by a book her father had given to her mother called The American Way of Housekeeping. She lives in Hawaii with her husband and three young children. How to Be an American Housewife is her first novel.

Additional information about the author:

Margaret’s website.
Margaret’s on Twitter.
Reading Group Guide for How To Be An American Housewife.

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I received a complimentary copy of How To Be An American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway from TLC Book Tours to be a part of this tour and offer my honest review of the book. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.