Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blog Tour and Book Review #25: JAPAN TOOK THE J.A.P. OUT OF ME: A Memoir by Lisa Fineberg Cook

Pub. Date: October 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Format: Paperback, 288pp
Sales Rank: 191,181
ISBN-13: 9781439110034
ISBN: 1439110034

Description (from the publisher):
Six days after an InStyle-worthy wedding in Los Angeles, Lisa Fineberg Cook left behind her little red Jetta, her manicurist of ten years, and her very best friend for the land of the rising sun. When her husband accepted a job teaching English in Nagoya, Japan, she imagined exotic weekend getaways, fine sushi dinners, and sake sojourns with glamorous expatriate friends. Instead, she's the only Jewish girl on public transportation, and everyone is staring. Lisa longs for regular mani/pedis, valet parking, and gimlets with her girlfriends, but for the next year, she learns to cook, clean, commute, and shop like the Japanese, all the while adjusting to another foreign concept -- marriage. Loneliness and frustration give way to new and unexpected friendships, the evolution of old ones, and a fresh understanding of what it means to feel different -- until finally a world she never thought she'd fit into begins to feel home-like, if not exactly like home.

My Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

My Thoughts:
I was so excited when my review copy of JAPAN TOOK THE J.A.P. OUT OF ME by Lisa Fineberg Cook arrived. As an armchair traveler, I love reading about people's experiences in other countries, the more exotic the better. And the twist of this memoir -- that the author, a self-described Jewish American Princess loses her royal crown while living abroad -- promised to make this book an entertaining read.

I'm happy to say that I was not disappointed.  In fact, I appreciated this memoir on a level I totally did not anticipate.  I really didn't expect that I would ever be able to identify with anyone who would be described as a "princess," but I found that many of the author's reactions to her foreign circumstances were not so foreign to me! For example, I hate being the center of attention and feeling that all eyes are on me, especially out in public. Most of the time I tell myself that no one is really paying attention to me and just get on with my business. After all, no one likes being stared at. But for our intrepid Princess Lisa, all eyes really ARE on her! As a tall blond woman in a world of small dark-haired people, she becomes something of a spectacle just by stepping outside her door. Spoiled she may be, but this sort of celebrity attention is not something she is used to or desires.

For all her whining about having to figure out how to do her own laundry and cooking and being reduced to using public transportation, Princess Lisa plunges in and carries on. During her first year in Japan, she actually confronts several versions of culture shock: the most obvious is as an American living in a foreign country with it's different viewpoints and customs. Secondly, this is also her first year of marriage, and that requires adjustments and compromises in an uncharted territory that would challenge anyone. And thirdly, she discovers the vast landscape of her own character. In the past, she may have enjoyed her pampered existence, but she takes pride in learning to fend for herself -- and laugh at herself.

JAPAN TOOK THE J.A.P. OUT OF ME was an enjoyable read and a fun little escape. I enjoyed the author's light writing style and her ability to poke fun at herself. And if she sometimes sounds childish in her complaints about the lifestyle she has taken on, she also possesses an almost childlike wonder and ability to have fun.
"Tokyo rocks. I love it. Everything moves incredibly fast and the lights and sounds collide colorfully, creating a kind of benevolent Blade Runner atmosphere. It happens to be raining this weekend, which adds to the allure as live-action billboards glisten throughout the Ginza district. When we come to the famous four corners crosswalk, which is as wide and long as an L.A. city park, we stand on the curb for several minutes waiting for the light to change, and I look at the bright neon puddles and smile at my husband." p. 79
I want to read more from this author -- what was her second year in Japan like? How did she adjust to life back in the States? What is her life like now?  Oops! Am I staring?

Check out these other blogs on the tour to read some more reviews:

The Life (And Lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object: http://haleymathiot.blogspot.com/

The Neverending Shelf: http://neverendingshelf.blogspot.com

Drey’s Library: http://dreyslibrary.blogspot.com/

A Sea of Books: http://aseaofbooks.blogspot.com/

Libby’s Library News: http://www.libslibrary.blogspot.com/

Bookin’ With Bingo: http://bookinwithbingo.blogspot.com/

Readaholic: http://bridget3420.blogspot.com/

That’s A Novel Idea: http://thatsanovelidea.blogspot.com

Starting Fresh: http://startingfresh-gaby317.blogspot.com/

Just Another New Blog: http://justanothernewblog.blogspot.com/

Blog Business World: http://www.blogbusinessworld.blogspot.com

My Friend Amy: http://www.myfriendamysblog.com

Chick With Books: http://www.chickwithbooks.blogspot.com/

Book N Around: http://booknaround.blogspot.com/

My Book Views: http://my-book-views.blogspot.com/

So Many Books, So Little Time: http://purplg8r-somanybooks.blogspot.com/

Keep on Booking: http://keeponbooking.blogspot.com

Reading at the Beach: http://ilratb.blogspot.com/

Found Not Lost: http://jmomfinds.amoores.com/

Brizmus Blogs Books: http://brizmusblogsbooks.blogspot.com/

I Read: http://sumanam.wordpress.com/

Thank you to Sarah at Simon & Schuster
for organizing this blog tour
and providing me with a review copy.


bermudaonion said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed this - I'm not sure I'd like the whining, though.

Zibilee said...

This sounds like an amazing read! I am glad that you liked it so much and think I will too! Thanks for the great review, I will be on the lookout for it!

Wanda said...

I can well imagine the culture shock that hit this character hard! Glad to hear you enjoyed the read.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
christa said...

Oh this sounds like my type of books! I have a friend who lives in Japan so would be interesting to read about this. Adding it to TBR, thanks for the review :)