The Buddha in the Attic - Julie Otsuka
3 1/2 stars, rounded up.

This is the second book I've read in almost as many weeks that employs an odd sort of narrative style. And as in the earlier book I read like this, it's a good thing it's short, because this style would not have held my attention very much longer. It is told in the first person plural (we), something I would have said was impossible prior to reading it.

It is the collective experience of Japanese women coming to America, from the turn of the 20th century, and ending in 1942, although at no point are we given a time frame of any sort. This style of writing made everything seem distant and impersonal. While not generally a good thing in storytelling, I was infinitely grateful for it when describing the wedding nights, and later on, childbirth. The watered down descriptions of some of the brutalities were sufficient to get the point across and make me cringe.

However, the most riveting chapter was the last. The perspective shifts from that of Japanese women to the American population as a whole, talking about the overnight disappearance of an entire group of people. It reads like a paranormal dystopian novel. Except that it is neither paranormal nor dystopian. It really happened.