The Yokota Officers Club: A Novel

The Yokota Officers Club: A Novel

by Sarah Bird
4.4 12

Hardcover(1 ED)

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The Yokota Officers Club: A Novel by Sarah Bird

Chicago Tribune

After a year away at college, military brat Bernadette Root has come “home” to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, to spend the summer with her bizarre yet comforting clan. Ruled by a strict, regimented Air Force Major father, but grounded in their mother’s particular brand of humor, Bernie’s family was destined for military greatness during the glory days of the mid-’50s. But in Base life, where an unkempt lawn is cause for reassignment, one fateful misstep changed the Roots’ world forever. Yet the family’s silence cannot keep the wounds of the past from reemerging . . . nor can the memory fade of beloved Fumiko, the family’s former maid, whose name is now verboten. And the secrets long ago covered up in classic military style–through elimination and denial–are now forcing their way to the surface for a return engagement.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375412141
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/19/2001
Edition description: 1 ED
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.39(d)

About the Author

Sarah Bird is the author of four previous novels: Virgin of the Rodeo, The Boyfriend School, Alamo House, and The Mommy Club. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, George, and son, Gabriel.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Yokota Officers Club 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sara Bird has exposed the heart and soul of kids that have survived as dependants in the military. I picked up the book to read about my home from 1966 to 1970. I was one of the lucky extroverted ones ('Kit' in the book). I went to 13 schools in 12 years. I never realized,in my adult life, why I always felt like I was on the outside looking in, until I met Bernie in the book. Sara's book 'fills in the holes' and answers the questions, 'just where is Daddy going now?' Blending fact & fiction I found this a wonderful read. Laughting and crying in the same chapter is very cleansing. And the use of 'smells' envoked powerful memories. My love,affection and respect for my Japanese friends is only deepened. I am humbled by Fumiko's story. Thank you Sara for your literary tallent. I am on line to find another gem to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sarah Bird¿s The Yakota Officer¿s Club is an exquisitely painful and hilarious journey into a dysfunctional and yet proudly resourceful military family¿s secrets. I am also an Air Force brat (though we called ourselves dependents, not brats at the time), who lived in Japan during the 1950¿s and have never seen a book about our peculiar life style so heartrendingly accurate. My dad, as a young lieutenant, installed my Mom, younger sister and I on Wherry housing outside of Johnson AFB at the end of 1955 through the summer of 1957. I was 10 to 12 years old at that time and like the young Bernie Root found Japan to be at first as foreign as living on the moon. Japan was still raw with WWII wounds, broken down, bursting with smells, sights and sounds that were dangerous and exotic to me. Bernie¿s first trips out with the family maid recalled my own strange memories of roaming through the little villages next to the base looking for forbidden adventures with little Japanese girls. We couldn¿t speak each other¿s languages, but found commonality playing in the rain, mud and exchanging dolls. As an older teenager, Bernie has the opportunity to return to Yakota Air Base to resolve a mystery concerning the family maid, Fumiko. My family also had a young teenage maid, Chioko, who must have gotten in trouble with her GI boyfriend(s) and was fired by my parents. When Bernie visits her parents Moe and Mace and her wild menagerie of brothers and sisters on Okinawa, her description of the military daughter¿s role was almost painful for me to read. Every detail rang so true about the insular and peculiar extended military ¿family¿ living in our guarded and barbed wired mini cities. No matter what country we were stationed in, the Base (Post, etc) was an untainted little America, an island unto itself. I was pulled back in time reading Bird¿s description of the sameness of every military base with the commissary, BX, grassy yards, cramped housing made of cinder blocks, Officer¿s Club with swimming pool, DOD schools and teachers, the pecking order according to your father¿s rank, and my worst nightmare - seeing the moving truck pull up to my or my best friend¿s house. Bernie¿s siblings became my many forgotten pals who shared precious hours at the BX, theater, swimming pool and teen club. I remember spending my hard earned weekly allowance of 25 cents on candy bars, ¿Betty and Veronica¿ comic books, and those titillating sounds of Elvis Presley on size 45rpm records at the Base Exchange. Alternate weeks, my allowance went for a 10-cent movie, 10-cent popcorn and 5-cent coke at the base theater where we stood and put our hands over our hearts to listen to the national anthem before the cartoon came on. Reading this story was like seeing my own past exposed to the world. It was a thrilling and yet embarrassing experience at the same time, like someone had stolen my personal diary and published it. I have had very little contact with other military brats in my adult civilian life, so reading this book was like reminiscing with an old friend. I am left wanting to read more adventures of Bernie Root and her nomadic family. Write on, Sarah Bird!
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Timber14 More than 1 year ago
A good book, but the chapters are very long.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a good, funny book. I would recommend it to others. In the book Bernie is a college student home for the summer with her family. Her father is in the air force, so her family is always moving. She goes back to her old home, Japan, because she won a dance contest with a trip to Japan as the prize. She renters her life as a young girl in Japan, and finds secrets of the past. This is a good book that is sure to keep you interesed. I would suggest it. I didn't give the book a five star rating, because the book got confusing sometimes and boring.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I happened upon this book while looking for Ken Mochizuki's Beacon Hill Boys. When I saw the word Okinawa, I picked up this book. I was born on Okinawa in 1955 and lived there until 1973. Although my dad worked as a Civil Service employee for the U.S. Army, I am very familiar with the themes in this book, the intrigues, the paranoid anti- communist propaganda and all of the other inane things one had to do in those days. In 1992, I returned to Okinawa and like Bernie, all I saw was the familiar places haunted by people I didn't recognize. The book helped me remember much of the good and bad of living in an American Raj. The only real criticism I have of the book ( and it's a minor one ) was that her geography was outright wrong at times. She claims that Highway 1 runs on the Pacific side of the island or when Bernie and Kit drive to the Suicide Cliffs way south of Naha and then back to the dance contest in less than 2 hours. Just details, I guess. However, I do recommend this book to fellow 'brats' that lived overseas.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm sixteen, and I just finished this amazing book. It definitely seemed a little 'adult' at times, but I would still reccommend it to anyone, young or old. To tell the truth, I happened upon this novel by complete chance: I was in the library looking for a book that my mom wanted me to check out for her, and the binding/cover design caught my eye. I didn't have anything to read a the moment, so I checked it out. I'd have to say that was either pure coincidence or fate, because this book was amazing! Though this is a subject that I would previously have had no interest in, I laughed frequently as I read, associating the vivid characters with others from my life. This novel brought me such a broad range of emotions; the last few chapters struck a part of my heart that I'm sure I won't forget for a while to come. I'm definitely considering reading another by Sarah Bird one of these days, and hopefully one I choose will compare to this gem...
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had never read Sarah Bird before, but now I am going to try and find every book of hers. I would recommend this book to anyone!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. Not what I usually read, but I'm glad I did. Excellent humor, strong characters and very poignant.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The Yokota Officers Club' is Sarah Bird's best ever, surpassing even 'The Boyfriend School' and 'Virgin of the Rodeo.' I found myself laughing out loud in a crowded airport terminal, transported from the tedium of flight delays to the compelling and often hilarious world of US overseas military bases.

The story weaves back and forth between the present, set in 1968, and the past of the 1950s. The suspense mounts as the story progresses and the main character Bernie Root pieces together the events which sidelined her father's promising career and left her parents estranged from each other. The author uses the time-shift device to advantage to let the reader see events through the child's eyes and then filtered through the reflective eyes of a young adult who is coming to understand their significance.

You don't have to be a military brat to enjoy this book. Although I didn't grow up in a military family, I could easily relate to the story's family dynamics and insights into the tensions between career and family life. The book is full of the vivid smells, sights, songs, and vernacular of the early Vietnam era.

Pop music buffs will enjoy testing themselves on tune recall. You'll never hear 'Brown-Eyed Girl' again without superimposing the pirated lyrics which the Taiwanese transcriber rendered as 'Hey Roderigo! Dates when no raking!' instead of 'Hey where did we go, days when the rain came.'

Even the shoe size incident struck home. It made me remember the time when a giggling sales clerk ushered me over to the men's section of a Tokyo shoe store because she knew that nothing in the women's section would be big enough to fit my size 9s. At least I didn't have to squeeze my feet into go go boots four sizes too small and dance onstage like our heroine Bernie Root.

But beware - the story will draw you in. The final chapters were so engrossing that I nearly missed my flight. Absorbed in the book, I tuned out all the boarding announcements till the final call. Then I went scrambling to the jet bridge, careful not to lose my place as I handed my boarding pass to the gate agent. Better to miss a flight than to miss this book, the latest effort from this extraordinary author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you were ever a teen dependent stationed in Okinawa during the war, this book will blow your socks off. The vernacular of a special time in my life just came roaring back. It was so much fun to hear old phrases agin that required no translation at all. Any military dependent, (we weren't brats in the Marine Corps!), will really enjoy this book!