This book took me totally by surprise. It was not written how I thought it would and I fell in love with the writing style. The book was much shorter than I thought it would be, but it took me a number of sittings to read through it because I didn’t want to miss a detail. I loved this book. As if you couldn’t tell already…
Title: The Buddha in the Attic
Author: Julie Otsuka
Summary (by Goodreads):
Julie Otsuka’s long awaited [novel] is a tour de force of economy and precision, a novel that tells the story of a group of young women brought over from Japan to San Francisco as ‘picture brides’ nearly a century ago.
In eight incantatory sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces their 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.
In language that has the force and the fury of poetry, Julie Otsuka has written a singularly spellbinding novel about the American dream.
Like I mentioned above, I fell in love with this book. It was only 125 pages, but it took me a couple of sittings to read through it all. I stayed up late to find out what happened with these extraordinary women and their lives. I marveled at their strength, their passion, and the silent fury that they carried inside them to get through different trials and situations. I know I wouldn’t be able to do it…
These women were promised a bright future with a wealthy or handsome young man on a photo that had been given to them. They left their homes in Japan order to help their families by sending money back to them. When they get to America, not only is the culture different but the lives they were promised did not turn out the way the letters from their “husbands” promised it would be. To turn back and go back to Japan…they would have shamed their family. So they stuck it out and did what they had to do.
The book goes through the progression of their lives. The boat that brought them to America, their husbands, their first nights, the babies which turned into children, the children that turned into rebellious teenagers, the war and the suspicion that their husbands were spies to Japan. Ultimately it chronicles their emotions of going to a foreign world to a foreign husband to make a life and all the trials, harassment, and situations they lived through. It did a great job showing it from multiple perceptions, those who had a more fortunate lifestyle…to those who had a horrible experience.
Below, are a couple of pictures I took of a couple excerpts of the book so you can understand when I say the writing is lyrical and poetic in nature, but not a poem and not written really in a prose format. I hope if you read it, if you do…let me know what you think!!