by Margaret Dilloway
Fiction, 288 pages
How to Be an American Housewife is a story about mothers and daughters, cultural connections, and family relations. Shoko, a Japanese woman, marries an American GI and moves to the United States. Shoko hopes to return to Japan to make amends with her brother who held a grudge against her. However, her poor health makes her unfit to travel, so she sends her daughter, Sue, in her place. Sue is a single parent whose life is lacking enjoyment since her main focus is upon her daughter, Helena. While in Japan, Sue and Helena meet family members they’ve only heard stories about. Throughout the book, there are references to a hand book about the process to become a successful American housewife. Sue constantly feels that she’s not pleasing her mother, yet at the same time Shoko feels she’s sometimes inadequate as an American mother. The book is roughly divided into two parts: Shoko’s viewpoint and Sue’s viewpoint while in Japan.
Once you leave Japan, it is extremly unlikely that you will return, unless your husband is stationed there again or becomes weathly.
Take a few reminders of Japan with you, if you have room. Or make arrangements to write to a caring relative who is willing to send you letters or items from your homeland. This can ease homesickness.
And be sure to tell your family, “Sayonara.”
– from the chapter “Turning American,” in How to Be an American Housewife
– Margaret Dilloway