For February, we are reading "How to be an American Housewife" by Margaret Dilloway.
It is the story of a Japanese War Bride and, half a century later, the perspectives of her American-raised daughter. I like how the book opens with the sentence, "I had always been a disobedient girl." And later in the chapter, "I was disobedient, not foolish." I hope you enjoy it too!
How to be an American Housewife Book Club Questions
* Shoko marries Charlie, a man she does not love, in order to leave a war-torn Japan. Do you feel her life in the United States was the right decision?
* Prejudice and stereotypes are prevalent themes in the novel. The book contrasts society at two points in time, just after WWII and current day. How do the forms of prejudice and stereotype represent our society today? Do current global conflicts result in similar stereotypes?
* A recurrent theme in the novel is how mothers and daughters communicate for better and worse. In what ways did you feel that the difficulties between Shoko and Sue are universal? In what ways are the issues cultural?
* Shoko and Sue represent very different models and standards of motherhood, care taking, and housekeeping. What do you consider their strengths and weaknesses? What would you consider essential qualities?
* The chapters are introduced with snippets from Shoko’s “How to Be an American Housewife” guidebook. How do you view the book’s advice? What advice would you give to someone coming to the US?
* The guidebook advises women to raise their sons differently from their daughters. Do you think boys and girls are raised differently in all cultures, including your own, and what impact does this have on all of us?
* Sue’s life expands as a result of her experiences in the book and she makes life altering decisions. Do you feel she makes better choices than her mother?
* Another theme in the book is understanding and forgiveness. How do Shoku’s efforts result forgiveness with her brother, her son, and Charlie? How realistic is this given the passage of time, cultural beliefs, heredity, and the perspective of age?