Sarah Birds gutsy, sharp, and touching new novel opens at full speed.
Bernadette "Bernie" Root, military brat, speaks. She has never really noticed what a peculiar bunch of nomads her eight-member Air Force family is (with the exception of her Post Princess sister, Kit), until the summer after her first year of college when she joins them at their new assignment: Kadena Air Base, Okinawa.
Just as Okinawa turns out to be a sorry version of the Japanese paradise Bernie knew in her childhood at Yokota Air Base, her family, especially her once-beautiful mother, Moe, and her former spy-pilot father, Mace, seems to have been in decline since those glory days of the American Raj. Days when her mother was happy and their best friend, Fumiko, now lost to them, was the familys maid. The worst part of Okinawa for Bernie, though, is realizing how perfectly she fits with her oddball family and how badly she needs to get out.
So when a dance contest first prize, a trip to Japan, offers a chance to escape, she takes it, playing second banana to a third-rate comedian on a tour of Japans military bases. At their grand finale at the Yokota Officers Club, Fumiko finally reappears, and Bernie discovers the terrible price that is paid when the secrets nations hide end up buried within families.
Bernie is an original with her own voice, a believably awkward mix of sassy attitude and breathless insights, but she marches too much in lockstep with her creator's overly schematic plotting. Like everyone else, she's under orders.
School Library Journal - Lynn Nutwell
Bird has created a deftly choreographed journey of the heart, delicate and nuanced in its disclosure of painful family secrets, yet liberally seasoned with robust humor....A beautifully paced story, especially recommended for (but not limited to) any locale with a military base nearby. Adult/High School.
Library Journal - Beth E. Andersen
Bird nails the voice of Bernie in a delicate balance of confused, shy child vs. the bright emerging woman she has become. Bird's masterly use of the tricky technique of children revealing adult subtleties is breathtaking. An even trickier technique, smoothly moving from the scene-setting, literally translated bar-girl English of Fumiko to the proper English Bernie hears, puts the reader right in the middle of all the heartache....Highly recommended.
Mary Edwards Wertsch, author of Military Brats Legacies of Childhood Inside the Fortress
The first half of this book will make you scream with laughter. The second half will tear your heart out. Very few novelists have gotten the military brat story right. Believe me, Sarah Bird gets it right. For the first time we have a writer as dead-on as Pat Conroy, but from the daughter's point of view. We are so very lucky that Sarah Bird has brought her immense talents to the telling of our story.
Roy Blount, Jr.
From the family car to forbidden airspace, this is a wonderful book. If you've ever been a sibling, a parent, a spy, a spouse, a flyer, a teenager, an entertainer, an outsider.... Or if you've ever felt trapped.
Sarah Bird's world, viewed through the eyes and memories of a sassy Air Force brat, is our world tender, hurtful, complex, unexplained. She captures the certainty we all have growing up, that we are the serpent who drove our parents out of the Eden of our childhood. Funny, wrenching, singularly moving, The Yokota Officers Club is a marvelous story. You'll want to share it with everyone who knew you when.
A bittersweet and often funny novel about being different; about secrets; and about what happens when the luster fades. Sarah Bird is a wonderful writer.
Sweet, powerful, and terrifying, Sarah Bird's talent, always substantial, achieves in The Yokota Officers Club an even greater depth and force that is nothing less than wondrous. This book is a beautiful and breathtaking treasure, and I thank her for it.
The miracle of The Yokota Officers Club is that it defies the laws of its own gravity. How can a story about dispossession and unspeakable loss, about fading national glory and family heartbreak, be so consistently--and authentically--hilarious? Sarah Bird's novel is an unforgettable melding of exuberant wit and deep compassion.
Who else can write about dancing, music, JP-4 fuel, the military, and strawberries, make it funny, and also make it about matters of the heart? Only Sarah Bird. This is her best book yet, a big book that you'll want to read again as soon as you finish it the first time.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Stephanie Peterson One of the best books I've read, Hands Down. Once I picked this book up I couldn't put it down! It was so beautifully written, I just KNEW I was there with her as she went on her adventure through her past. It had such a surprising impact on me! At the beginning, I was thinking, "Oh, this... Read More
Rated of 5
by BookBrowse BookBrowse.com - Davina Well worth reading, and especially recommended as a book club choice, particularly for mother-daughter book clubs, or for groups with connections to the military.
Not merely a coming-of-age story, Goldberg's first novel delicately examines the unraveling fabric of one family. The outcome of this tale is as startling and unconventional as her prose, which wields its metaphors sharply and rings with maturity.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...