The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka, Penguin Books, Britmums Book club

The Buddha in the Attic – AD sent for review

disclosure:  we were sent the item mentioned for the purpose of review

I’m a member of the BritMums book club, in conjunction with Penguin Books, and I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka.

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka, Penguin Books, Britmums Book club

I was drawn into this book within the first couple of pages, it’s not a long read at only 129 pages so great for a few evenings, a weekend away or a flight read.  It is so beautifully written, I just did not want to put it down.

The story is written in a really unusual way, the author writes as ‘we’ pretty much all the way through the book, so you don’t get to grasp onto a particular character, very different from anything I’ve read before, but captivating.

The book tells the story of a number of ‘photo brides’ leaving their homes across Japan between the two world wars and heading for a life of uncertainty in the U.S.A., to husbands who they have never met, clasping on to photos of the men they think they will meet at the end of their journeys.  Reality and the photos were often poles apart.

I realised that I knew absolutely nothing about this era and of the young women moving from one side of the world to the other, to a totally different culture, dealing with a totally alien language.  How scary must that have been?  Of course, you also know where history takes Japan and the U.S.A. and that’s in the back of your mind all the way through this book.

We learn about their marriages, the extraordinarily hard lives they lived, the way they were treated by their husbands and the American people, the happy tales, the disappointments and their struggle as mothers.

It’s a short read, as I’ve already said, so I’m not going to dissect it in minute detail, I always prefer for others to read the book themselves anyway.

We’ve all heard about POW camps here in the UK during WWII, my Father-in-law actually worked in one housing Italian nationals.  I’d never thought about ‘hostile aliens’ in other countries and how they would be treated.  This book has really opened my eyes. It’s great when you just enjoy a book and are left feeling so enthusiastic about it.

My only disappointment with The Buddha in the Attic is with the ending – I was left with too many questions.  Perhaps that’s the whole point!  I want to find out more about this time period in American history now, and where these women ended up.

I’ve also ordered Julia Otsuka’s first novel When the Emperor was Divine – I’m sure I’m in for a good read there too.




6 thoughts on “The Buddha in the Attic – AD sent for review

  1. I agree that the book leaves you wanting to know more – I think that is a quality of the book though rather than a failing, urging the reader to go and find out more, and not let this story (the real story behind the book) be lost.
    I want to read her other book too!

  2. Agree, it leaves you wanting more. I’m planning to read her first too. Really enjoyed your review as we all get so much and so many different perspectives and you remind me other important parts of the book .

  3. I’m reading her first book now – look forward to hearing your thoughts on that one. I’m so glad to have discovered J.Otsuka through Penguin/Britmums! x

    1. I’m reading The Kite Runner at the moment, and then back to Julie Otsuka. Agree, I#m so glad to have been introduced to some great books through BritMums/Penguin (except Ancient Light – I really didn’t enjoy that one!)

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