Following are the publishers’ descriptions of the books.
• “How to Be an American Housewife” by Margaret Dilloway. This is a story about the strong pull of tradition, and the lure and cost of breaking free of tradition. Set in California and Japan, it tells the story of Shoko, a Japanese woman who married an American GI as a way of improving her and her family’s fortunes, moved with him to the States, and tried to learn how to be a proper American housewife; and her grown daughter Sue, who finds her own life as an American housewife is not at all what her mother would have wanted for her, or even what Sue had hoped for herself.
When Shoko’s illness prevents her from making a long-awaited trip to Japan to be reunited with her brother, she asks Sue to go in her place, and the trip changes both women’s lives in unexpected ways.
With beautifully delineated characters and unique, entertaining glimpses into Japanese and American family life and aspirations, this is also a moving mother-and-daughter story. Interspersed with quotations from Shoko’s guide to being an American housewife, this is a warm and engaging novel full of surprising insight.
• “Wingshooters” by Nina Revoyr. Michelle LeBeau, the child of a white American father and a Japanese mother, lives with her grandparents in Deerhorn, Wisconsin — a small town that had been entirely white before her arrival.
Rejected and bullied, Michelle spends her time reading, avoiding fights, and roaming the countryside with her English springer spaniel, Brett. She idolizes her grandfather, Charlie LeBeau, an expert hunter and former minor league baseball player who is one of the town’s most respected men. Charlie strongly disapproved of his son’s marriage to Michelle’s mother but dotes on his only grandchild, whom he calls Mikey.
This fragile peace is threatened when the expansion of the local clinic leads to the arrival of the Garretts, a young black couple from Chicago. Betty Garrett is hired as a nurse, and her husband, Joe, works as a substitute teacher at the elementary school. The Garretts’ presence deeply upsets most of the residents of Deerfield, especially when Mr. Garrett makes a controversial accusation against one of the town leaders, who is also Charlie LeBeau’s best friend.
In the tradition of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “A River Runs Through It,” and “Snow Falling on Cedars,” Revoyr’s new novel examines the effects of change on a small, isolated town, the strengths and limits of community, and the sometimes conflicting loyalties of family and justice. Set in the expansive countryside of central Wisconsin, against the backdrop of Vietnam and the post-civil rights era, “Wingshooters” explores both connection and loss as well as the complex but enduring bonds of family.
Both books are available for purchase at the Museum Store.
Interviews with the authors can be found at www.DiscoverNikkei.org/en.
For more information, call (213) 625-0414 or visit www.janm.org.