Book Review: How to Be an American Housewife

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How to Be an American Housewife

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



8 thoughts on “Book Review: How to Be an American Housewife

    Northern Narratives said:
    October 20, 2011 at 10:18 am

    This looks like a good book. I hope to read it soon. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Caroline responded:
    October 20, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    If you enjoy cultural stories and fitting into a new country then I think you’ll enjoy it. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

    the island traveler said:
    October 21, 2011 at 1:27 am

    What a timely and interesting book. Living in America but having been born from a different cultural background, I can see the struggles and the adjustment a mother, a wife must make. It’s never easy to teach part of you culture to you children while at the same time having the modern American thinking influence their minds as they grow up. In the end , you can only hope they get the best of both worlds. Thanks….

      Caroline responded:
      October 21, 2011 at 6:47 pm

      That was a big theme throughout the book, since the mother was torn between two worlds. I’m sure it must be difficult maintaining a cultural background, yet wanting to pass it on. Thanks for stopping by.

    Dayle Fraschilla said:
    October 23, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    I’ve heard of this book before, but I’ve never read it. It definitely looks interesting.

      Caroline responded:
      October 24, 2011 at 7:13 pm

      It wasn’t a re-read book material, but it was still an enjoyable read especially if you enjoy cultural relationships. Thanks for the comment.

    Cedric de Alicoque said:
    October 24, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    How to be… Makes me wonder. Nowadays there is multi-cultural relationships. At times is like “normal” but yes, at sometimes it is a shock! 🙂

      Caroline responded:
      October 25, 2011 at 9:23 am

      It’s sort of a book inside the book. The ‘suggestions’ for ‘how to be an American housewife’ are sort of funny, yet sad since trying to mold into a new person. Thanks for your comment.

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