Customer Reviews for

The Buddha in the Attic

Average Rating 3.5
( 164 )
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(45)

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(34)

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(25)

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(19)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

11 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

Poetic.

Julie Otsuka writes beautifully. While other reviewers didn't like the "we" voice she used, and thought there should have been a main character, I kind of disagree. I think using multiple perspectives was more suitable for the story because she wrote the book on behal...
Julie Otsuka writes beautifully. While other reviewers didn't like the "we" voice she used, and thought there should have been a main character, I kind of disagree. I think using multiple perspectives was more suitable for the story because she wrote the book on behalf of an entire generation of Japanese women. This was a good, quick read filled with poetic language and stories that were both fascinating and tragic. I really enjoyed it.

posted by BabyHouseman87 on December 10, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

No real characters in this book!

If you like to read books that don't develop any real characters and distorts history this is the book for you. I wanted to like this book, but I couldn't connect with any of the non-existing characters. I gave it one star because I have read books that are worse. Th...
If you like to read books that don't develop any real characters and distorts history this is the book for you. I wanted to like this book, but I couldn't connect with any of the non-existing characters. I gave it one star because I have read books that are worse. This was a terrible short read. There was no centralized theme, or overall plot. The men in the story were made out to be villains. I kept waiting for this story to begin, it was depressing and negative in my opinion. I want the hours of my life back that I wasted on this.

posted by ZeeLeeDeeGee on October 17, 2011

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  • Posted December 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    There Are Stories We Tell Ourselves and Then There is the Truth

    When I think of my Italian grandmother immigrating to the U.S. in 1916, I'd be fooling myself to imagine a cheerful scenario of twinkling red and green lights and steaming trays of homemade lasagna served on a white lace tablecloth. The truth, with its elements of hunger, poverty and alleged domestic abuse, is a much darker story. And yet she immigrated hoping for a better life than the one she was leaving behind.

    The mail-order brides in Julie Otsuka's Buddha in the Attic cross the ocean hoping for a better fate than the "farm wife" lives they are destined to lead in Japan. Their dreams of handsome husbands and affluent lives dissolve the moment they set foot in America.

    In the collective voice of a generation, Otsuka tells of the the disappointment, despair and brutality that awaits so many of these women. Those who are defiant and determined often end up victimized in other ways. Many grit their teeth and soldier on to bring forth children whose "Americanization" is heartbreakingly depicted.

    This small book isn't emotionally easy, but thanks to Otsuka's blistering, unsentimental prose, it's compulsively readable. Much of it is sad and shocking. But it will make you grateful for those who came before and had the courage to live their lives allowing us opportunities and an existence they could only dream of.

    11 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 10, 2011

    Poetic.

    Julie Otsuka writes beautifully. While other reviewers didn't like the "we" voice she used, and thought there should have been a main character, I kind of disagree. I think using multiple perspectives was more suitable for the story because she wrote the book on behalf of an entire generation of Japanese women. This was a good, quick read filled with poetic language and stories that were both fascinating and tragic. I really enjoyed it.

    11 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 28, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Fast read

    I enjoyed reading this book. The story was interesting, fun, and unpredictable! I highly recommend this book and this author! I cant wait to read more from her.

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 26, 2011

    Good Quick Read

    at only 101 pages it's a quick read but I loved every minute of it! I recommend this book.

    7 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2011

    Highly recommend!

    This book was not only very interesting, but a history lesson...GREAT, short read!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 4, 2011

    Great Read!

    Thought provoking. Simple read but so interesting it was hard to put down.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 13, 2011

    Highly recommended

    Using a poetic voice the author tells an "everywoman" story spanning the multiple experiences of young Japanese women who hoped to find a new life, something better in California. It is useful to be aware that this was just one "tribe's" story from the female point of view as American Immigrants. This would be a good introduction to that embarrassing period of US history when people were judged by racial/heritage origins. It should be a basis for discussions in classrooms and bookclubs today-it still happens.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2011

    Don't bother...

    If you've read When the Emperor was Divine don't bother with this. It's the same thing.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2012

    Fasinating Historical Fiction

    This book is written in a group first person. What is happening to one character is happening to all. The Buddha is a history spanning many years and tells of the Japanese abuse of their own as well as American abuse during the Second world War.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 30, 2011

    Great story reporting history as it was!

    As I read this I felt as if I were there watching it happen. Utterly baffling how they were/are treated.
    As women, they were not respected. As humans, they were slave labor.
    It would be good read for men to help them understand themselves and their female friends.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2013

    A good read

    Beautifully written book and gives insight into Japanese women's lives in the US before WWII and how much the war impacted the community.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 13, 2013

    Very moving account

    I thought this book was a very powerful account of the Japanese brides who came to the US in the 1930s. The author used an unusual technique: instead of following a specific person's story, she told a group story: "we were young, excited, scared.' This enabled her to tell many stories at one time. Some people in my book club didn't like this style; they prefer to hear one person's story. I, on the other hand, thought this technique was very effective. I recommend this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 30, 2013

    Very good read, I would recommend it and have passed the book on

    Very good read, I would recommend it and have passed the book on to my sister who also loves to read. I'd heard some of these stories of all immigrants, just makes you so proud of these women and grateful that they had the courage to pave the way for the rest of us, thank God for all these brave and strong women.

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  • Posted July 7, 2013

    I loved When the Emperor Was Divine and The Buddha in the Attic

    I loved When the Emperor Was Divine and The Buddha in the Attic was another masterpiece of eloquence. It was so well researched I never doubted the experiences described were not felt by many of the Japanese women who naively came to America thinking they live a dream.

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  • Posted February 15, 2013

    poetic approach to a sad piece of American history

    Otsuka's account of the Japanese 'picture brides' who arrived here early in the 20th century is written in mesmerizing prose, sounding much like the chorus in a play of Sophocles. This choral approach emphasizes the community as a whole with an occasional individual voice being heard from time to time. Their story ends with the internment of all Japanese at the start of World War Two and the final chapter turns their communal experience on its head as a different chorus of voices takes over. Beautifully rendered.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2012

    Eclipse

    Anybody up for some silver bells...?!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2012

    This book was hauntingly beautiful. A novella with a poetic tak

    This book was hauntingly beautiful. A novella with a poetic take. I loved that the story was told in the first person plural which added to the beauty and reality of the picture brides and Japanese Americans.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 1, 2012

    Although it was sometimes hard to read, because the information

    Although it was sometimes hard to read, because the information kept coming at me in short, almost rhythmic bursts of thought, attacking my brain with bullets of information, it was actually an amazing read because after 129 pages, I not only felt that I knew about the history of the Japanese women who were lured here by Japanese men who deceived them, but I also knew how they were treated on board the boats that brought them here, how they survived the journey, how they were treated in America by other Japanese, by other immigrants and by Americans. In short, in so few pages, the author has done a monumental job of informing the reader about a scar in our past that cannot be erased.
    The short sentences spoke volumes. We feel the power of the storyteller’s words; we occupy her thoughts. We understand the plight of the mail-order brides, experience what they must endure and will continue to endure for the rest of their lives
    Beautifully written, lyrical at times, with some rare moments of subtle wit, the mostly sad revelations come to life in short, simple sentences that are easy to grasp, and yet are filled with deep emotion in their construct.
    Sometimes the seemingly random thoughts felt almost rambling, but they coalesced and presented an amazing final picture of what it was like for these women, now sentenced to life in America far different from what they had hoped and expected. The sentences, which at first seemed to be mundane lists of occurrences, running together rapidly, suddenly, seemed effortlessly to explode with passion.
    I learned how the Japanese lived, what they dreamed, where they originally came from, what they hoped for, how old they were, how pure, how abused, how they bore their grief, their hardships, their children, their small joys, their working days, their exhaustion, and their poverty.
    I watched them bear it all quietly, with dignity. They suffered in silence. They raised their children strictly, in the ways of the old world, and yet, the children became more Americanized than Japanese; they became ashamed of their parents and their impoverished circumstances, unable to escape the financial failures of their lives.
    Then came the war and it was as if all they had fought to achieve was for naught, in the end; all the hard work, all their achievements were wiped out, the slate was clean, all the struggles were futile. Their decisions to be purchased as brides, to obtain a better life, had the severest of consequences. The Japanese simply came and went, and life went on as if they never were, they were not remembered.
    In so few pages, this amazing novel, tells it all. As it presents a sharp snapshot of their efforts and their history, we come to understand how nobly they suffered, how they couldn’t return home without shaming their families with their failure in America, how they wrote letters home filled with a life of fantasy. Although there were some traitors among their race in America, at the time of World War II, most were not our enemies. They thought of themselves as Americans, and they were stoic, they believed they would be proven innocent, no danger to the country, and that they would one day return to their homes but America did not believe in them. Their homes were looted, their businesses taken over by others, and they were deceived and abandoned by their friends once again, as they had been when they first came with the false promises made by their husbands and by the agencies that sent them false pictures and false hopes about a land filled with opportunity for them, simply in exchange for their passage and a promise to be a wife. They became, instead, a servant, perhaps even a slave.
    The final message may be that friends can become enemies, in a flash, and sympathizing with friends, who are now considered enemies, can make the sympathizer the enemy too. Fear is a dangerous and powerful weapon. It worked and soon, all memory and traces of the Japanese in J-town were gone.
    This brief book is a tale about dreams and nightmares, love and hate, acceptance and prejudice, joy and sadness, hope and hopelessness, exceptional kindness and exceptional cruelty. It is about longing, disappointment, deception, exhaustion, treachery and ignorance.
    It is a heart wrenching story about naïve Japanese girls and women, who were led down the garden path, who came to America thinking they would find handsome, literate and successful husbands, only to find out the pictures of their spouses were old, and so too were the men. The letters were written by professionals with the intent to deceive them and convince them to come, but this was not the fairy tale they hoped for and they were not all going to be happy. Their lives were going to be filled with struggle and hardship, but they were proud and noble and quietly accepted their nightmare and not their dream.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 27, 2012

    Reviewed by ONLY GOOD BOOKS: I know you┬┐re not supposed to put

    Reviewed by ONLY GOOD BOOKS: I know you’re not supposed to put the word
    “very” in front of “unique,” but in the case of THE BUDDHA IN THE ATTIC,
    it applies. This PEN/Faulkner Award-winning novel is the first and
    probably only book you’ll ever read that is written from the
    “first-person collective” point of view. Never heard of it? It looks
    like these opening lines: “On the boat we were mostly virgins. We had
    long black hair and flat wide feet and we were not very tall. Some of
    us had eaten nothing but rice gruel as young girls and had slightly
    bowed legs, and some of us were only fourteen years old and were still
    young girls ourselves.” And so on. My favorite sentence, which also
    appears on page one, is this: “On the boat the first thing we did—before
    deciding who we liked and didn’t like, before telling each other which
    one of the islands we were from, and why we were leaving, before even
    bothering to learn each other’s names—was compare photographs of our
    husbands.” I was hooked. The story of Japanese brides who arrive in
    the United States and find that their husbands look, shall we say, a
    little different from their photographs, might be a fine story all by
    itself. But Julie Otsuka, whose extensive research informs this
    129-page gem, went further. Turns out that the women arrive not long
    before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and are subsequently
    relocated, along with more than 110,000 other Japanese-Americans, to
    internment camps. Otsuka captures in brilliant, telling detail the
    experiences of these women, men, and children. In short, it’s a perfect
    matching of perspective with content.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2012

    great book club read

    Interesting point of view on Japanese war brides prior to internment camps. Created lots of discussion.

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