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Monday, April 6, 2015

Review: The Buddha in the Attic

The Buddha in the Attic
Author: Julie Otsuka
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Random House Audio
Release Date: August 23, 2011
Audiobook: 3 hours and 55 minutes
Narrator:  Samantha Quan and Carrington MacDuffie
Source: Free from e-Library

Book Description

Julie Otsuka’s long awaited follow-up to When the Emperor Was Divine (“To watch Emperor catching on with teachers and students in vast numbers is to grasp what must have happened at the outset for novels like Lord of the Flies and To Kill a Mockingbird” —The New York Times) 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.


 I read a review of this book from Tanya at Girlxoxo and thought I might add it to the growing TBR list as well.  And the pretty cover helped too.  When the book became available from the e-library on Overdrive I thought it would be a perfect short audiobook for my 6 mile walk.  And it was!  This audiobook delivered.  
Unlike most short stories this story is told in first person plural and by all views in the same overall situation.  It was as if all the Japanese women who came to the US before Pearl Harbor got to add a their voices to this book and it made it amazing and poetic.
I think this is the first book I have read written like this.  And it worked completely with this subject matter.  It was like looking through the eyes of a group and not just one person.  I loved this and thought the various situation where believable and felt very real.  The author made sure to get the good and the bad as well as the mundane of the Japanese women (young girls) coming to America.
The best part of the audiobook was the narrator Samantha Quan.  I could picture her as a small framed Japanese young lady on the boat and in the fields.  Her voice was clear and had just enough of an accent and softness to be 100% Japanese without making it hard for the reader to understand what she was saying.  The other narrator Carrington MacDuffie who I have heard on several other audiobooks like THE PARIS WIFE by Paul McClain and IRISES by Francisco X. Stork seemed to stick out in a harsh loud American rough way.  Her part was the last chapter and her voice was a bit jarring after listening to Samantha for 95% of the audiobook.  I understand how it could work and it really did not take away from the book for me.  Great audiobook and I would love a part two book about the lives of these women post Pearl Harbor.

Reviews by Other Bloggers



I recommend this book to older teen readers due to mention of rape, abortions and violence against women.


This book is number 6 in my Diversity on the Shelf Reading Challenge
This book is number 7 in my Audiobook Reading Challenge
This book is number 8 in my New to Me Reading Challenge
This book is number 13 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge 

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