Saturday, July 07, 2012

BC2012: Japan Took the J.A.P. Out of Me by Lisa Fineberg Cook

I needed something lighter after reading about old people and Hitler recently, and Japan Took the J.A.P. Out of Me delivered. This amusing and insightful memoir comes from a self-described Jewish American Princess who marries and immediately heads to Japan for her husband's two-year teaching assignment. Cook had been fully immersed in the "L.A. lifestyle" of shopping, mani-pedis, and driving (in a convertible, of course). In Nagoya, she has to adjust both to a very different culture and to a new role as wife and homemaker.

A lot of reviewers rip on this book because they don't like J.A.P.s -- they complain that Cook is a spoiled brat -- but to me that just seems silly. It's like complaining about the movie The Pride of the Yankees because you don't like the New York Yankees. Besides, Cook is pretty upfront about who she is; it's in the freaking title.

The more I think about this book, the more her husband irritates me, though. It's like he was always saying just the right things to her. He wasn't perfect, but he was close enough to make me feel like a schmuck of a husband myself.

Regardless, I enjoyed the glimpse into Japanese culture, particularly because this book was about living and working there, not just vacationing, and because it was about Nagoya, not Tokyo (not that I have any particular interest in Nagoya, but Tokyo is the New York City of Japan, so it was refreshing to read about an average city instead).

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