The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka (2011)

LAST DAY

Some of us left weeping. And some of us left singing. One of us left with her hand held over her mouth and hysterically laughing. A few of us left drunk. Others of us left quietly, with our heads bowed, embarrassed and ashamed (p 105).

buddha in the atticThe Buddha in the Attic begins with boat full of Japanese women making their way to California to be wives. The husbands, misrepresented to their brides, await them at the docks. The white community never truly accepts them. Their meager wages and accomodations endured without complaint. The pride and self-respect exuded. The few who found easier lives, in brothels or with generous employers. In the end, all are forced to leave as World War II casts suspicion on anyone of Japanese decent living along the coast. By framing her sotry thus, Otsuka brings her readers fill circle.

With sparse and rythmic prose, Otsuka gives readers a glimpse into another time. In just a handful of words she conveys much, sets the tone, and hoks readers into continuing.

This is America, we would say to ourselves, there is no need to worry. And we would be wrong (p 18).

One of my favorite books of 2011, I highly recommend it!

Library copy | August 23, 2011 | Alfred A. Knopf | ISBN 978-0307700001 | Adult | 144 pages | $22.00

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