Saturday, September 25, 2010

Midori by Moonlight: Japanese woman lands in San Francisco

Midori by MoonlightMidori by Moonlight by Wendy Tokunaga

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I discovered this book thanks to Goodreads/Facebook friend and author Suzanne Kamata, who always has great book recommendations about Japan and Asia. Having lived in Japan for 3 years in the 1980s, I am always interested in books set there or about Japanese or Japanese-Americans.

I really enjoyed this story about a spunky, American- and baking-obsessed young Japanese woman (Midori) who becomes engaged to an American man, Kevin. Kevin reminded me of so many of the gaijin (foreign) men I met--who desperately seek Japanese women because they believe they will be more submissive and subservient than American women (probably true in many cases). And conversely, many Japanese women find foreign men to be more respectful and less domineering than traditional Japanese men. Midori was bound and determined to marry a foreigner.

However, things went wrong after she arrived in San Francisco. Kevin dumped her for his old girlfriend, and Midori had already said goodbye to her family in Japan.

She ends up making the best of a bad situation and piecing together a life for herself in San Francisco. I liked the setting in the City by the Bay, and Tokunaga's descriptions of Japanese young people who do not feel that they fit into traditional Japanese culture ring very true.

At times, it seemed that Midori's English was just a bit too perfect--after all those years of teaching English myself, I rarely found a student who could speak that well. However, her struggles with English idioms made me chuckle. Before I tried to teach English as a second language, it had never occurred to me how confusing and bizarre (not to mention, difficult to learn and remember) our idioms are. Many of my students were fascinated by our strange idioms.

Midori by Moonlight is a light, fun read, and probably most appreciated by people who have lived in or are interested in Japan. I will definitely read more of Tokunaga's books!
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