Synopses & Reviews
The award-winning author of How to Be an American Housewife returns with a poignant story of estranged sisters, forced together by family tragedy, who soon learn that sisterhood knows no limits.
Rachel and Drew Snow may be sisters, but their lives have followed completely different paths.
Married to a wonderful man and a mother to two strong-minded teens, Rachel hasnt returned to her childhood home since being kicked out by her strict father after an act of careless teenage rebellion. Drew, her younger sister, followed her passion for music but takes side jobs to make ends meet and longs for the stability that has always eluded her. Both sisters recall how close they were, but the distance between them seems more than they can bridge. When their deferential Japanese mother, Hikari, is diagnosed with dementia and gives Rachel power of attorney, Rachels domineering father, Killian becomes enraged.
In a rare moment of lucidity, Hikari asks Rachel for a book in her sewing room, and Rachel enlists her sisters help in the search. The bookwhich tells the tale of real-life female samurai Tomoe Gozen, an epic saga of love, loss, and conflict during twelfth-century Japanreveals truths about Drew and Rachels relationship that resonate across the centuries, connecting them in ways that turn their differences into assets.
"A tender and captivating novel of family secrets and redemption, and a compelling look at the complex love languages spoken within three generations of a family."
-Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
"In How to Be an American Housewife, Margaret Dilloway creates an irresistible heroine. Shoko is stubborn, contrary, proud, a wonderful housewife, and full of deeply conflicted feelings. I wanted to shake her, even as I was cheering her on, and this cunningly structured novel allowed me to do both. It also took me on two intricate journeys, from postwar Japan and the shadow of Nagasaki to contemporary California, and from motherhood to daughterhood and back again. A profound and suspenseful debut."
-Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street
"A triumphant debut novel. Margaret Dilloway gives us the most original, endearing, courageous and enduring narrator I've read in a long time. Shoko's voice is one of a kind, yet as familiar as advice from your own mother. Her unforgettable story of triumph, tragedy, disappointment and joy will stay with me."
-Susan Wiggs, author of Just Breathe
"How to Be an American Housewife is filled with dreams and love--the kinds that come true and those that don't. Margaret Dilloway is wise and ironic. She has created wonderful characters who never, in spite of hardships, stop finding ways to love each other."
-Luanne Rice, author of The Deep Blue Sea for Beginners
"Margaret Dilloway has written a compulsively readable novel about the timeless, fraught, and ultimately powerful relationships between mothers and daughters, and brothers and sisters. How to Be an American Housewife confirms that redemption and happy endings are always possible."
-Patricia Wood, author of Lottery
"How to Be an American Housewife is witty, rich, layered, and so very satisfying. Dilloway's talent shines through from the very first page, and I was terribly sorry when it ended. This is by far one of the best books I've read in ages."
-Jane Porter, author of Easy on the Eyes
"How to Be an American Housewife is equal parts multilayered and beautifully nuanced - an enthralling debut told in an utterly original voice."
- Holly Kennedy, author of The Penny Tree
"Charming, poignant and life affirming. Dilloway reminds us of the triumph of love over geography, silence and misunderstanding. She makes us glad to be alive."
-Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle
"Dilloway is one of those remarkable writers that can completely transport you to a unique place in time. In How to Be an American Housewife I became both Shoko, the Japanese war bride, and Sue, the American daughter straddling two cultures. The richness of detail will have you reaching for your kimono before you realize it didn't happen to you."
-Kerry Reichs, author of Leaving Unknown
“A skillfully woven tale where the lore of a twelfth-century female samurai helps two present-day sisters release the past and heal their fractured lives. Vivid, detailed, and historically fascinating.”
—Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Looking for Me
"I deeply admire Margaret Dilloways deftness in braiding together past and present, but what I love best about this book is that every relationship rings true, particularly the complicated bonds of sisterhood. As Drew and Rachel struggle toward each other, butting heads, wrestling with old jealousies, discovering deep reservoirs of love, I kept thinking: 'Yes! Thats it. Thats exactly how it is.'"—Marisa de los Santos, New York Times bestselling author of Love Walked In and Belong to Me
"Dilloway's historical tale of legendary love and loss illuminates a modern-day struggle between sisters-- both the intense conflict and devotion. If you don't have a sister, you'll wish you had one. If you do, you'll want to go find her and hold her tight."—
Julie Kibler, author of Calling Me Home
Praise for Margaret Dilloway
“This radiant debut pays moving tribute to the power of forgiveness.”
“Enchanting... Dilloway splits her narrative gracefully between mother and daughter making a beautifully realized whole.”
— Publishers Weekly
“Heartfelt…Lovely.” — USA Today
“A nuanced debut.” — Redbook
“A tender and captivating novel of family secrets and redemption, and a compelling look at the complex love languages spoken within three generations of a family.”
—Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
A lively and surprising novel about a Japanese woman with a closely guarded secret, the American daughter who strives to live up to her mother's standards, and the rejuvenating power of forgiveness.
How to Be an American Housewife is a novel about mothers and daughters, and the pull of tradition. It tells the story of Shoko, a Japanese woman who married an American GI, and her grown daughter, Sue, a divorced mother whose life as an American housewife hasn't been what she'd expected. When illness prevents Shoko from traveling to Japan, she asks Sue to go in her place. The trip reveals family secrets that change their lives in dramatic and unforeseen ways. Offering an entertaining glimpse into American and Japanese family lives and their potent aspirations, this is a warm and engaging novel full of unexpected insight.
A mother-daughter story about the strong pull of tradition, and the lure and cost of breaking free of it.
When Shoko decided to marry an American GI and leave Japan, she had her parents' blessing, her brother's scorn, and a gift from her husband-a book on how to be a proper American housewife.
As she crossed the ocean to America, Shoko also brought with her a secret she would need to keep her entire life...
Half a century later, Shoko's plans to finally return to Japan and reconcile with her brother are derailed by illness. In her place, she sends her grown American daughter, Sue, a divorced single mother whose own life isn't what she hoped for. As Sue takes in Japan, with all its beauty and contradictions, she discovers another side to her mother and returns to America unexpectedly changed and irrevocably touched.
Journeying from Queens to Brooklyn to Seoul, and back, this is a fresh, contemporary retelling of Jane Eyre and a poignant Korean American debut
For Jane Re, half-Korean, half-American orphan, Flushing, Queens, is the place shes been trying to escape from her whole life. Sardonic yet vulnerable, Jane toils, unappreciated, in her strict uncles grocery store and politely observes the traditional principle of nunchi (a combination of good manners, hierarchy, and obligation). Desperate for a new life, shes thrilled to become the au pair for the Mazer-Farleys, two Brooklyn English professors and their adopted Chinese daughter. Inducted into the world of organic food co-ops, and nineteenthcentury novels, Jane is the recipient of Beth Mazers feminist lectures and Ed Farleys very male attention. But when a family death interrupts Jane and Eds blossoming affair, she flies off to Seoul, leaving New York far behind.
Reconnecting with family, and struggling to learn the ways of modern-day Korea, Jane begins to wonder if Ed Farley is really the man for her. Jane returns to Queens, where she must find a balance between two cultures and accept who she really is. Re Jane is a bright, comic story of falling in love, finding strength, and living not just out of obligation to others, but for ones self.
A powerful and wholly original American saga.” San Francisco Chronicle
Bich Minh Nguyens previous booksthe acclaimed memoir Stealing Buddhas Dinner and the American Book Awardwinning novel Short Girlsestablished her talents as a writer of keen cultural observation. In Pioneer Girl, Nguyen entwines the Asian American experience with the escapist pleasures of literature, in a dazzling mystery about the origins of Laura Ingalls Wilders classic Little House on the Prairie.
Lee Lien has long dodged her Vietnamese familys rigid expectations by immersing herself in books. But now, jobless with a PhD in literature, she is back at home, working in her familys restaurant under her mothers hypercritical gazeuntil an heirloom from their past sends Lee on a search for clues that may lead back to Wilder herself, transforming strangers lives as well as her own.
About the Author
Patricia Park was born and raised in New York City. She earned her BA in English from Swarthmore College and an MFA in Fiction from Boston University, where she studied with Ha Jin and Allegra Goodman. A former Fulbright Scholar and Emerging Writer Fellow at the Center for Fiction, she has published essays in The New York Times, Slice, and The Guardian.