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How to Be an American Housewife Summary and Reviews

How to Be an American Housewife

A Novel

by Margaret Dilloway

How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway X
How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2010
    288 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[E]nchanting first novel...Dilloway splits her narrative gracefully between mother and daughter, making a beautifully realized whole." - Publishers Weekly

"Dilloway's writing is fluid, and she clearly knows how to draw the reader into her story. The only minor drawback is the rather rushed ending..." - Library Journal

"How to Be an American Housewife is filled with dreams and love—the kinds that come true and those that don't. Margaret Dilloway is wise and ironic. She has created wonderful characters who never, in spite of hardships, stop finding ways to love each other." - Luanne Rice

"A tender and captivating novel of family secrets and redemption, and a compelling look at the complex love languages spoken within three generations of a family." - Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

"In How to Be an American Housewife, Margaret Dilloway creates an irresistible heroine. Shoko is stubborn, contrary, proud, a wonderful housewife, and full of deeply conflicted feelings. I wanted to shake her, even as I was cheering her on, and this cunningly structured novel allowed me to do both. It also took me on two intricate journeys, from postwar Japan and the shadow of Nagasaki to contemporary California, and from motherhood to daughterhood and back again. A profound and suspenseful debut." - Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street

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Reader Reviews

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Louise J.

A Great First Novel!!!
How to Be An American Housewife is a beautiful Japanese/American story of a family who fell out of favour with some relatives in Japan. For forty-years Taro, and his older sister, Shoko did not speak to each other or communicate in any way. Shoko married an American Navy man in Japan and then moved to America with her husband, Craig after the falling out. Shoko had two children: Mike and Sue.

The story is rich with historical information and we visit places such as: Nagasaki, Kumamoto (to see the famous Kumamoto Castle), Peace Park, Uwajiima, Suizenji Jojuen Park, and Kyushu to name a few.

Now in her sixties, Shoko had planned to go to Japan to find her younger brother, Taro but she became too ill with heart problems to go, so she asked her daughter Sue to go in her place. Sue and her twelve-year-old daughter, Helena flew to Japan and began their two week search for her Uncle Taro.

This novel is life affirming, poignant, and proves that no matter the distance we live from someone, or the number of years that have passed without speaking, there is always room for forgiveness and redemption.

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Author Information

Margaret Dilloway

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. Her blog, "American Housewife," can be found on her website, www.margaretdilloway.com. This is her first novel.

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