Tag Archives: The Buddha in the Attic

WWW Wednesday, 1-October-2014

1 Oct

Time for MizB’s WWW meme! This week was the jump that I was posed for last week.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  My ebook is The Domesday Book by Connie Willis and as expected, this is a long haul. I’m 23% of the way through which I’m actually pretty excited about. It’s farther than I expected to be. I’ve finished the second section of Read Along #2The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar. It was a really great section and I can’t wait to read the next! As expected, I’ve started my ‘Reading Next’ books. The first is  Misterio de La Guia de Ferrocarriles by Agatha Christie which I’ll be reading slowly. That might work against me, but I think I can keep up with the story. It’s the Spanish that will be a problem! The other book is  Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King for my book club. I started it and so far, its dense, but still reads well. Hopefully I can get into it a bit more. I began a new audiobook, The Compound by S.A. Bodeen, which is yet another recommendation from my book calendar last year. That thing is hopping!

Recently finished: Two this week! The first is the drawn out Canada by Richard Ford. I liked this one, but I didn’t love it. As I was told it would, I was reminded of John Irving.  The second is The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory which I listened to in my car. Again, it was good, but it just didn’t blow me away.

One lonely book review this week. Check out my review of The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka.

Reading Next:  No new news on Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I’m holding out for a miracle! I also need to pick out something for my work book club. Hmm. I’ll be deciding on that today.

I don’t expect to finish anything this week, but there are always book miracles. How is your WWW? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Book Review: The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka (4/5). We liked this book.

29 Sep

This book is another gem that came to me through my Book-A-Day Calendar in 2013. That thing really filled up my TBR list and this year, I’ve read 5 of them with an average rating of 3.8. That’s pretty good for a stack of papers! Especially when you consider the 10 personally recommended books I’ve read this year have an average 3.2 rating. I should trust this calendar more.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

We came over from Japan on boats to meet husbands in pictures. We work the fields of the wealthy white men in California, never having a moments rest. We bear the children who we hope will grow up to be just like us, but much better. And we are the ones that suffer when we’re taken away and put into camps.

Written in the collective first person, this story chronicles the Japanese brides who came to American after World War I in hopes of a better life. They work for years, raising children who reject them and their traditions and being seen as outcasts by the others living around them. And then the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. What’s a Japanese to do? They purge themselves of their heirlooms and pictures of their families, but the accusations still fly. People start to disappear in the night. And then the word comes that they’re all going to be moved. In a mass exodus, the Japanese will leave the coastal cities and be relocated inland. The silence they leave behind is deafening.

I was not expecting much from this short little book. It’s length actually made me wonder at first if it was written for a young audience, but the quick dive into these women’s personal lives and thoughts corrected me. I knew about the Japanese camps during World War II, but I never gave much thought to what those people had endured before. I hadn’t read anything about Japanese immigrants to America before and it was eye-opening to see how they were treated.

One thing about history that’s always bothered me was why we put the Japanese in camps. I understand the logic that some immigrants were thought to help coordinate the attacks, etc., but I’m asking specifically why the Japanese and not the Germans or Italians or other nationality against which we were fighting. I’m German in heritage myself and I kept thinking of my grandma as a little girl being taken away to these camps, wondering what her distant relatives back in Germany could have done. I think the Japanese children felt this way, too. One theory I’ve heard is that the Japanese were just more easily identifiable. This makes me sad. Any comments?

It was almost impossible to draw individual characters from the text because of the first person plural POV. Otsuka presented the experience as collective and individual at the same time. It would say something like, “We endured and we flourished.” The reader knows some of the Japanese women endured and others flourished, but there was no tracking who did which. It was also hard to tell the size of the group the book tracked. Parts of it seemed like a small group, one ship’s worth of women, but at other times it seemed to represent all Japanese brides in that time period.

It was hard for me to relate to the characters. I felt that their story was very unique to the time in which it was told and would more relatable to an immigrant. I was born and raised in the US and I can’t relate to the struggles to learn the language and culture aside from my study abroad experiences, and I don’t think that holds a candle to what these women endured. I can see a struggle such as this one in some of the immigrants I interact with, but I can’t imagine the struggle.

I thought the end of the book was the most powerful. The point of view switched to the people who lived in California and how it felt when the Japanese were gone. There was a shared sense of emptiness and a realization that the Japanese had never harmed them and in truth had added a lot to their lives. No one seemed glad that the Japanese were gone and there was a slight sense of guilt in the voice.

Julie Otsuka Image from the author's website.

Julie Otsuka
Image from the author’s website.

The section of the book toward the beginning about manual labor when the women first arrived in the US was hard to read. The suffering that these women described reminded me of The Grapes of Wrath. It was hard to read about that suffering and I knew then that this book would take on a dark tone. The men were portrayed in a very negative light during this part of the book and it made the women seem very alone and vulnerable.

The point of view lends itself to a theme of community. The Japanese women shared many of the experiences in the story and kept a close community with those enduring with them. Their diaspora from California was also done as a community and their group was unwelcome as a nation. Their community stayed tight-knit throughout and I think that’s the best they could have asked for in the situation. Sometimes, having each other is enough.

Writer’s Takeaway: What a great example of being brave with writing choices. Not many novels are written in the collective first person and I’ve never read one so coherent as this. Otsuka did a wonderful job of bringing the story of a community together with one voice. She was also very smart to choose a time in history that’s not as well-known and make it relatable today. Plus, she did it in a short number of pages. Bravo all around to the writing in this book!

Really enjoyable overall and a quick, refreshing read. Four out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka | A Little Bog of Books
The Buddha in the Attic (2011) – Julie Otsuka | A Novel Approach
No 704 The Buddha in the Attic | 746 Books

WWW Wednesday, 10-September-2014

10 Sep

Time for MizB’s WWW meme! This week was full of finishing books, but I’ll be slowing down for a while I fear.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  I was able to read some of Canada by Richard Ford but I’m afraid it’s been put to rest again for a while. Poor thing. My new audiobook is The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory. I’m a huge fan of Gregory and it’s made only more awesome that this book will fulfill the 1400s in my When Are You Reading? Challenge. My new ebook is The Domesday Book by Connie Willis which a co-worker recommended to me ages ago and I know my friend Katherine really enjoyed. It’s a clunker so expect to see that title on this list for a looooong time. The race is off for Read Along #2 and I’ve started in on the first section of The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar. So far it’s pretty darn awesome. My copy is autographed so it won’t leave the house (my rule) so this might be a bit slower than I’d read the sections otherwise, but it’s coming along nicely. And because that wasn’t enough, I started our new book club selection yesterday, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. I’m only a few pages in, but it’s really creepy! My guess is it only gets worse. Four new books started! Yay.

Recently finished:Three finished this week! I completed the audio of Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan and I’m glad to be done with it. I’m not a fan of the literary wives trend and read this because someone recommended it and I needed an 1800s book. It will be a less than glowing review when it comes out. I finished the ebook of The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka and I don’t think I can say enough good things about it. This short little book was really refreshing and I’m so glad I picked it up! I also finished  The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline in three days. That’s really fast for me! But I loved it so much. My mom, grandma, and supervisor had all recommended it to me and it did not disappoint. What an amazing story.

I also got three book reviews posted! If you’re so inclined to read more than my one-sentence reviews here, you can check out my full reviews of Looking for Alaska by John Green, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick, and The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien.

Reading Next:   Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett is still waiting on my library list. I don’t have much else waiting now because I just started so many! I know there will be more to come, but that’s for next week.

I’m not sure I’ll finish any this week, but I’ll try my darndest! How is your WWW? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 3-September-2014

3 Sep

Time for MizB’s WWW meme! This week was moderate progress but I’m still slugging through a few.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  I’ve stalled reading Canada by Richard Ford but i can almost see the light of when I can pick it back up. I think it’s in about a month? The audio of Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan is getting close to the end. I’m on the second-to-last disk and I can’t wait to finish it. I’m loving and making good progress on The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka. It’s written in a very compelling way, using a first person plural voice. I like it a lot. I’ve also just started  The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, which is my next book club selection. My mom recommended this a few months back and I was excited to see it on our book club list.

Recently finished: Just one this week,  Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt. I read this so fast it was never on my ‘currently reading’ section. A co-worker lent it to me and I read it in three days. I want to talk to her about it, but this is her vacation week. Dang it.

And one book review for you all! Check out my review of Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn that I put up yesterday.

Reading Next:  I’m still waiting on Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett to come in at the library. I asked about a library bounty hunter position, but I don’t think she realized I was serious. I’ve got the audio for The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory in my car, ready to start as son as ‘Sky’ is done. This will fill in the 1400s for my When Are You Reading? Challenge and then I’ll only be one from finishing. Yay! Pretty soon I’ll be starting Read Along #2 and the book we’ve chosen is The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar. I met Umrigar about a year ago and she blew me away; what a wonderful woman. I’m excited to read this book! If you’re interested in joining the Read-Along, check out my post explaining what it’s all about and drop me an email.

Hopefully I can finish ‘Sky’ early this week. I’m ready for it to be over. How is your WWW? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 27-August-2014

27 Aug

I was hoping for a bit more movement in MizB’s WWW meme because of Bout of Books, but I think I did it wrong. You’ll see what I mean.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  I’ve stalled reading Canada by Richard Ford so I can read a library book… and then I’ll have a book club book… and one a co-worker loaned me. In short, this might be on hold for a while. The audio of Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan is progressing, but getting under my skin. The narrator is really inconsistent with the accents she’s given the characters and it’s driving me mad. I started a new ebook, The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka. It’s a nice short book so I hope this will move faster than most of my other ebooks have.

Recently finished: Two this week;  The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I finished it Tuesday afternoon last week in the airport but didn’t have a way to update my WWW from last week, so I’ll count it for this week. Last night I finished Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors and I’m sleepy because of it! I’m ready to start a new one at lunch.

Reading Next:  I’m still waiting on Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett to come in at the library. I’m almost giving up on getting this back any time soon. Maybe it’s worth reporting to the library? I’m not sure how that process works. I’ve got two books coming up soon. My next book club selection is The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. I’m excited because my mom read this a while ago and really loved. I hope it’s a good discussion book as well. The other is one my co-worker is lending me, Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt. She and I have similar tastes in YA so I’m looking forward to a quick, solid read. I’ll crack it open during my lunch break in a few hours. Pretty soon I’ll be starting Read Along #2 and the book we’ve chosen is The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar. I met Umrigar about a year ago and she blew me away; what a wonderful woman. I’m excited to read this book! If you’re interested in joining the Read-Along, check out my post explaining what it’s all about and drop me an email.

My goal is to finish ‘Marble Sky’ this week and get started on one of my ‘Reading Next’ books. How is your WWW? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 20-August-2014

20 Aug

This will be quick. I’m out-of-town today so I don’t have a lot of time for MizB’s WWW meme. I’m in the middle of Bout of Books so that’s helping!

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  Almost done with  The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien! By the time you read this, I might even be finished. I’ve stalled reading Canada by Richard Ford. The book on hold at the library came in, unfortunately. But I hope to finish it soon; maybe even this week. I’ve started two. My new audio is Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan. One of the librarians recommended this to me and specifically said she loved the narration. I’m not as much of a fan. The other is Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors. I’m not sure what’s up with me being under the sky this week!

Recently finished: Two audiobooks this week! Looking for Alaska by John Green, which I finished with my carpool buddy. The other is Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick which I’d downloaded to my phone in case of emergency.

Two reviews up, as well. Check out my review of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen.

Reading Next:  I’m still waiting on Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett to come in at the library. If there was such thing as a ‘library bounty hunter’ to track down people whose audiobooks are a month overdue, I would take that job. I’ll also start a new e-book, probably The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka. This is another the book calendar recommended.

With Bout of Books, I hope to finish at least two! We’ll see how that all goes. How is your WWW? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!