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The brave, wry, irresistible journey of a fiercely independent American woman who finds everything she ever wanted in the most unexpected place. Shufu: in Japanese it means “housewife,” and it’s the last thing Tracy Slater ever thought she’d call herself. A writer and academic, Tracy carefully constructed a life she loved in her hometown of Boston. But everything is upendeThe brave, wry, irresistible journey of a fiercely independent American woman who finds everything she ever wanted in the most unexpected place. Shufu: in Japanese it means “housewife,” and it’s the last thing Tracy Slater ever thought she’d call herself. A writer and academic, Tracy carefully constructed a life she loved in her hometown of Boston. But everything is upended when she falls head over heels for the most unlikely mate: a Japanese salary-man based in Osaka, who barely speaks her language. Deciding to give fate a chance, Tracy builds a life and marriage in Japan, a country both fascinating and profoundly alienating, where she can read neither the language nor the simplest social cues. There, she finds herself dependent on her husband to order her food, answer the phone, and give her money. When she begins to learn Japanese, she discovers the language is inextricably connected with nuanced cultural dynamics that would take a lifetime to absorb. Finally, when Tracy longs for a child, she ends up trying to grow her family with a Petri dish and an army of doctors with whom she can barely communicate. And yet, despite the challenges, Tracy is sustained by her husband’s quiet love, and being with him feels more like “home” than anything ever has. Steadily and surely, she fills her life in Japan with meaningful connections, a loving marriage, and wonder at her adopted country, a place that will never feel natural or easy, but which provides endless opportunities for growth, insight, and sometimes humor. A memoir of travel and romance, The Good Shufu is a celebration of the life least expected: messy, overwhelming, and deeply enriching in its complications....

Title : The Good Shufu: Finding Love, Self, and Home on the Far Side of the World
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780399166204
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 336 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Good Shufu: Finding Love, Self, and Home on the Far Side of the World Reviews

  • Esil
    2018-11-01 15:29

    I was drawn to The Good Shufu based on the topic and description, but I didn't love the execution. Tracy Slater's memoir of the first few years of her relationship and marriage to a Japanese man is touted as a book about how Slater's North American feminism collides with the social expectations she finds as a wife in Japan. In reality, much of the book takes place before the marriage, and is about Slater's mixed feelings about moving to Japan and getting married -- it feels like it's more about her personality and insecurities than about the cultural chasm she has entered. Once she does move to Japan, the book continues to dwell on Slater's insecurities -- for example, asking her husband whether people could tell she wasn't wearing underwear when wearing a particular dress to a wedding and worrying about what her husband's aunt thinks of her. I suspect that this type of insecurity and dependency can be a real effect of dislocation for many people, but that doesn't necessarily make it interesting reading -- at least not to me. Where the book was interesting to me is when Slater does write about her observation of life in Japan from a Western perspective -- trying to understand what feel like impenetrable cultural differences and figuring out how best to adapt to this environment that seems to have specific expectations of foreigners and women. And the depiction of her relationship with her father in law is very touching. Ultimately, this is more a book about the challenges of relationships, early marriage and fertility than it is a book about adapting to Japanese culture. Overall, The Good Shufu was interesting in parts, but not as much as I had hoped. Perhaps this speaks to my relationship with memoirs more than anything else. I have a very low tolerance for self indulgent uncritical self observation and am much more interested in memoirs that are outward looking and help me understand different times and places. Of course, by definition many memoirs fall into the first category, so this may simply be a question of taste. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an opportunity to read an advance copy.

  • Yukari Watanabe
    2018-11-08 11:31

    Japan is still very much male-dominated country where Men expect women to take supportive roles in every situation. For an independent Japanese woman, it's not easy to be married to a typical Japanese man. I know it because I'm Japanese and chose to marry to a Caucasian American Man and moved to USA.THE GOOD SHUFU's author Tracy Slater was a very independent women living in Boston. However, she fell in love with a Japanese guy who didn't even speak good English. What did she do? She not only married to a Japanese man, but also moved to OSAKA where foreigners are stared like rare zoo animals. What a brave woman!THE GOOD SHUFU is compared to 'Eat Pray Love', but I like Slater's memoir better. It's sweet, romantic, and optimistic. Slater even manage to make me love the part of Japan I had avoided.I enjoyed every page of the book. I highly recommend it.My NewsWeek Japan Review:http://www.newsweekjapan.jp/watanabe/...

  • Diane Barnes
    2018-10-25 16:33

    An interesting book about a self-described independent feminist who falls in love with a Japanese businessman, marries him, tries to live a life in both Japan and Boston. It seemed ironic to me that she loved her husband because he made her feel safe and took care of everything for her. Her feminism flew right out the window. She whined a lot about unimportant things, and I felt cheated by the way she ended the book. Having said that though, this was a book club assignment and it should be a very interesting discussion.I did love her husband, Toru. He was a very patient man.

  • eb
    2018-11-02 16:48

    I enjoyed this so much! It's a memoir by a proudly feminist professor who teaches a course in conversational English to Japanese businessmen, falls in love with one of them, and moves to Japan. Slater really captures the joys of a new relationship, and the strangeness and wonderfulness of dating someone from a different culture. She's self-aware, self-deprecating, and insightful. She paints a vivid picture of Japan. And her portrait of her father-in-law made me cry and cry. Docking one star because the writing can get a bit overwrought. But overall, I highly recommend this to anyone interested in Japan, marriage, writing, or how to balance your career and your family life.

  • Carol
    2018-11-03 13:39

    The Good Shufu: Finding Love, Self, and Home on the Far Side of the World by Tracy Slater is a very enjoyable memoir. I picked it to read because I married someone from a different culture too, only Chinese instead of Japanese. Also the blurb about her boyfriend who later became her husband was about such a sweet and understanding human being. Someone cautioned me that his personality goes against the stereotypical uncaring Japanese man! Of course, that statement did not stop me.My only negative is that my interest in the story sagged some in the middle because of the author’s discussion of whether or not to continue the relationship because she loved Boston so much and if she moved to Japan it would ruin her plan for her well thought out life. Later on, she came to a tentative resolution and her story turned into a page turner.I loved her portrayal of her Toru, the spiky haired guy in her class about business communication. He could barely speak English when she first met him but it didn’t take him long to reveal that he loved her.The author is very honest about her shortcomings that she wasn’t aware of until she started to teach the class. I like the freshness of that many autobiographers are not so honest about their flaws or their lacks. I think if I ever returned to Japan (I was there only for a one day layover.) I would be more aware of the cultural differences. Don’t think I will ever forget about the way her father in law and Toru handled the disappointments in life and the special lesson that the author stated at the end of the book.I would welcome a sequel to learn more of Tracy Slater and her family’s life. I am still very curious about Japan, a fascinating place!I received an Advanced Reading Copy from Amazon Vine free but that in no way influenced my thoughts or feelings in this review.

  • Stacy
    2018-11-05 16:27

    I spent most of my reading time wondering why this self-proclaimed "fiercely independent" feminist spent so much of her time shackled to worries about future problems that seemed to hold her back from actually being fiercely independent. Sadly, this seemed to be the underlying theme, though I'm sure unintended on her part. It read more like a long-winded meandering fish out of water story with a moderate collection of interesting Japanese culture that seem more like anecdotes. I guess I was hoping for a story about a REAL fiercely independent woman who seized love and a new culture a bit more bravely than the author actually did. It seems she just moved to Japan, kept herself in an American bubble, and noted the differences in a book.Knowing a bit about Japan, I think the author does point out some genuine differences that are interesting. But just don't expect a real page turner.

  • Susan
    2018-10-28 14:45

    I absolutely loved this book and read it in 72 hours, but only because it was the end of my kids' school year and I was busier than usual. Tracy Slater writes a deeply moving, honest memoir about her big move to Japan for a man she meets while she's teaching in an executive MBA program in East Asia. Toru is a salaryman who has studied English, but doesn't speak it fluently. Tracy knows no Japanese and has never thought much about Japan before moving there for a short time to teach. But love often creeps up on us when we least expect it, and that was the case with Tracy and Toru. One would think his Osaka-based family might be opposed to their only son/brother marrying a foreigner, but Toru's family was very supportive. I loved how close Tracy became with her father-in-law. That was almost as endearing as her relationship with her husband. Toru is portrayed as a solid, realistic, unconditionally supportive husband so much so that we all can't help but fall in love with him, too. I knew Tracy's story before I read The Good Shufu, but that didn't keep me from feeling nervous, sad, and exhilarated for her as I stole every free moment to read about her next struggle in Japan and Boston. She really puts herself out there and shows all her vulnerabilities as she tries to figure out her marriage and family like with Toru. Even though the subject matter is serious and oftentimes sad, Tracy Slater writes with a humbling humor that had me alternating between laughing out loud at the funny parts and tearing up at the sad ones. One ironic thing, though. She writes about wanting to become an internationally renowned food writer, only to realize that she doesn't like some Japanese food like sushi and grilled octopus balls. But her food writing in the book was vivid and enticing. I found myself craving a large bowl of udon and shrimp tempura, not to mention rice and seaweed balls, sushi, and those grilled octopus balls. This book is just as beautiful inside as it is outside. I can't wait to read it again and again.

  • Miss
    2018-10-19 13:31

    this was so interesting!tracy slater is a feminist english professor, boston born and raised. while teaching an english course to japanese mba students, she falls in love with one of her students, a japanese salaryman named toru. cue a life lived part time in osaka and slater musing over her relationship, culture clash, and her idea of homepart of what got me into it is this is really a book about two distinctive and foreign cultures to me. slater is from a very moneyed background which intersects with her feminist politics in ways that occasionally had me kind of going '...huh?'which she is aware of! the most obvious example is at one point she tells toru that she never cooks and they can just go out to eat every night. and his reaction was akin to mine -- every night? no, come on, that's too much, we need to eat at home sometimes. and slater has this moment where she's like huh, it's possible my feminist stance against having to cook is one heavily influenced by class privilege?which uh. well. yes.i don't know, i had expected to have more in common with slater (i love literature! i love feminism! i'm not american but hey, canadian isn't that far off when we're not kidding ourselves!) and those moments of dissonance were interesting in how they highlighted how very specific her particular cultural perspective wasplus she's a good writer and i really like reading about how people negotiate relationships across cultural differences so3.5 stars

  • Sara
    2018-10-26 16:46

    I was really excited to read this book and had high hopes. However, it is just one really long WHINE about her life, insecurities, and first world problems. I was more sympathetic until a certain point in the book when she mentioned she was 40 years old and I felt shocked that I wasn't reading the words of a twenty-something. The author comes across as very spoiled and self-centered though she does step up into the role of shufu in terms of the care she gives her father-in-law. Mostly though I was disgusted that she made little real effort to learn Japanese and function in Japanese society.This probably ages me, but when I was in the same position we didn't have the internet and couldn't afford phone calls to our therapists or even to our family in the States. So, we did our best to adjust. It seems that the author would rather change her circumstances than change herself, but I would have hoped for more of a balance there. Now that she has a child I'm guessing it will happen. It should be inevitable. This may be a harsh review, but really it was just too much self-centered whining, and I say this as someone who comes from the same Jewish background as the author. Cowboy up, girl!

  • Sheila Ryan Hara
    2018-11-05 15:39

    This is a book that begs to be read by everyone, everywhere. The journey Tracy takes to wholeness through following her heart to the other side of the world and making a life in an environment that is so radically different from the one she left behind is as instructive as it is inspirational. She observes with gentle humor the trials and triumphs of learning to communicate with her husband, his family, and how to adapt to a country that she may never be able to call her own. As a fellow foreign wife of a Japanese, there is so much I can identify with, but many of her themes are universal, and they all have something to teach us about tolerance, respect, adaptation and living on the margins of society. I admire her positive attitude in the face of adversity and her resilience in pursuing her goal. Brava!

  • Emmy
    2018-10-23 15:45

    I was sort of on the fence about this story. I had picked it up because I was hoping for a good read about Japanese culture. I'm hoping to go to Japan someday, so I thought this would be helpful. And yes, it was about Japanese culture, but it was about so much more than that! This was really less about Japan and more about Tracy. It was about struggles with culture changes, love, and careers. Tracy is a liberal, feminist academic. And being put into a country that is very conservative can be a shock. I feel that I learned less about Japan than I would have liked, but it was interesting to watch Tracy grow and change as a person, watching her opinions change on marriage, love, children, and home. It was a book about choices and love, and for that it was interesting. I was just disappointed that it was less about Japan.

  • Alexandra
    2018-10-26 12:36

    I really loved this book about finding love in an unexpected place across the globe. It is a personal memoir written by an expat in Japan, and it touches on culture shock, living between two cultures/continents, finding yourself, and it also has some great TTC chronicles. It is a great read for intercultural couples and especially expat women. Tracy was a successful feminist in Boston, who then moved to Japan to become a housewife ("shufu") and helped care for her aging father-in-law - and she found personal happiness there doing that. Happiness and purpose in an unexpected place doing something so unexpected.It was an interesting read and very inspiring. I'd love to read a sequel to this book.

  • Diana Band
    2018-11-04 08:35

    4.5 stars, rounded up. This was a quick, entertaining read, yet it ran deeper than most popular memoirs I've read. I felt like Tracy opened herself up to her readers, and her prose was honest and engaging. I also really enjoyed seeing Japan through one kind of feminist lens -- and appreciated how she assimilated into the culture while upholding her own values. It was a good example of how modern feminism takes many forms, and it got the wheels turning in my head.[Some mild “spoilers” ahead:]I did find myself frustrated with Tracy at times; while I understood her need to acknowledge her privileged position, the repetition was grating at times. I also wanted her to invest more deeply in her husband's culture -- only because she loves Toru and it seems odd to have no interest in learning his language (though she did make attempts later in their relationship), or wanting to connect with the country on a deeper level. She acknowledged her need to maintain some distance, and that this distance was freeing, but it did seem at odds with her guilt over privilege. This, however, is more of a complaint about the person than the book itself. I do appreciate reading a memoir and contemplating how I would react in a given situation and dissecting the memoirist, so I can’t say being at odds with her choices is really a bad thing.I also wished this memoir was longer – that it covered raising her child on two continents and the related challenges. I wanted to know if such a plan proved to be a success or how her marriage changed as a result. Is she living in Japan full-time now? This, of course, is another sign of a good memoir – the desire to keep reading more and continue engaging with the memoirist’s life. Perhaps Slater will consider a second memoir down the road!All in all, a great, engaging and thoughtful read. I appreciated the author’s willingness to dive headfirst into something, even if scary and uncertain. I felt she and I shared a lot of similar neuroses, so her shifting perspectives and bits of wisdom really rang true to me. Borrowed from the library, but hope to obtain a copy for a future reread.

  • Nore
    2018-10-29 14:27

    Less a book about adapting to a new culture and more a book about one woman in particular going through her own personal struggles. It was okay; it just wasn't what I expected, and not exactly what I was looking for. Had I known the latter third of the book would be so focused on her attempts to get pregnant, I likely wouldn't have picked this up.Also, as a linguist I was incredibly frustrated by her complete disinterest in learning the language of the man she married. Of course not knowing the language is going to shut you out of his family! No shit! It's his native language! Of course you're going to feel isolated in a country where you don't speak the language when you drag your feet on making the most basic step towards integration!Slater is a genuinely likable person, though, and I can't help but be happy for her - she's found herself a place in the world where she is unshakable.

  • catinca.ciornei
    2018-10-31 15:39

    Read this book during my first visit to Japan, as a 'primer' into its very special culture. Writing is eloquent and fluent, as expected from an accomplished graduate of Literature, a classic American intellectual describing her own story of 'gaijin' (foreign) love and getting accustomed to living in Japan; maybe the story is a little distant at times, as if the author is trying a little too hard to pull us into her life, but this did not diminish its impact for me. Nice reading if interested in how an introspective foreigner sees life in Japan. Also a nice piece of literature for someone interested in inter-national / inter-racial relationships, and the sentimental workings of late motherhood. A book about learning to value family.

  • Nan
    2018-10-31 12:43

    I was attracted to this book for several reasons: a fascination with the culture of Japan; the idea of a feminist moving to a country where there's a decidedly different playing field.I didn't expect to fall in love with Tracy, and with her dear husband, Toru, and with her father-in-law. There were quite a few tears shed at places in this book--but won't spoil it by saying where and why. This is an intensely personal and honest memoir that I'll be thinking about for a long time, and recommending widely. It's also the best kind of love story. Slater is a fine writer--elegantly relating her story, page by page, moment by moment. How wonderful that she continues to write, and inspire and work with other writers.

  • Mina
    2018-10-18 15:48

    Even now I am astonished at how the author refused point blank to learn her husband or new country's language... It was an actual case of wilful ignorance. She seems incapable of even imagining that other people (such as her husband, or other Japanese citizens who are living in their own country...) might have preferred or culturally different ways of thinking about or living their lives. When Tracy even entertains a ghost of this thought, it is alongside derision. Let's be real: For her entire life, Tracy never has to or even tries to do anything that's actually hard.tl;dr: poor little rich girl moves to japan, judges people from other cultures whilst sitting on her ass

  • Sarah
    2018-11-14 10:43

    This memoir about moving to Japan with her Japanese husband was unremarkable.

  • Sarah Nicole
    2018-11-05 10:28

    I've been wanting to read this book for a long time, and finally got it for Christmas and quickly devoured it. I'd been following the author's blog for a while, and had grown very curious to know how she and her husband met and the details about their relationship (which Slater shrewdly--but irritatingly--doesn't share online, so as to promote interest in the book). I honestly thought I would love this book, as another American feminist expat in Japan who has dated Japanese men. Unfortunately... I found more that was irritating in it than things I loved. It's probably the worst memoir I've ever read, and I like memoirs. Generally reading about other people's lives is fascinating to me. And while the writing is very, very good and is basically the saving grace of this book, I have to agree with the A.V. Club's review: "The Good Shufu promises an examination of how marriages fare in a culture clash, but it only delivers a faint echo of the marriage, little of the culture, and none of the clash."While her husband Toru emerged as charming and I could see why she fell in love with him, unfortunately the author came off as annoyingly obsessive. So many of the things she detailed just made me think "I would not like this person, and she is kinda crazy." It was strange how much she pushed for Toru to be a part of her social life despite the fact that he didn't really want that and wasn't suited for it, although I can't say I haven't been guilty of the exact same thing myself. I made a few attempts which didn't go well in my own experiences. It's true that it can be frustrating dating a Japanese guy who doesn't see that as a priority and who, if he does attend, is too shy to interact with people and can never get on their level anyway. But you have to realize that and give up on the dream of your man being your social companion the same way a western guy would. I eventually realized that but it's bizarre that Slater, in her 40s, just doesn't, and keeps throwing poor Toru into what sounds like absolutely miserable situations. I mean, these dinners she describes sound truly awful and forced. I don't blame him for not wanting to go.Another thing that struck me is she spends a large chunk of pages detailing their first fight, how she had been upset that he agreed to her suggestion of a weekend trip with "Maybe"--she would have preferred he clarified first that he really wanted to go, but needed to see how the schedule played out first. Then, later, he invites her to come to Osaka to see what it's like, and it's: "Well, maybe I could," I had tentatively agreed. I let the idea take form in my head, solidifying slowly like liquid hardening into shape.This is exactly what he responded earlier that you got so mad at him about!But the thing that angered me the most about this book was a scene that hit a little too close to home--when the author and her new American expat friend are laughing at the expats they feel have naturalized a bit too much. Evidently if you wear yukata or speak Japanese when Japanese people speak to you in English, you're trying too hard to pretend you're not white. I do both of those things--for what I feel are legitimate reasons--and was not pleased to see that assumption. The whole attitude of "if you do anything Japanese people do, you're just trying to run from your own identity, and we as other members of your race see right through you and are here to police your behavior" is ridiculous. We should all try to get along as expats in Japan as long as no one's harming anybody, and stop playing the "I'm the more legitimate expat" superiority game. It's just childish.There was also some instances of Japanese language misinformation in the book, which makes me suspect that no one at the publisher did any cultural fact-checking. Dear editor, just because Japan seems exotic doesn't mean you should let just anyone present themselves as a cultural authority on it and eagerly publish their book. Case in point...* "Saiaku-te!" was my fallback, which technically means "worst" in Japanese--> Um... what?? 最悪 (saiaku) and 最低 (saitei) both mean "worst," but as far as I know 最悪低 (saiaku-tei) is not a word. I spent a good minute puzzling over this one. ???* young mothers rode by on their mama-chari, ubiquitous one-speed bikes whose names were a riff on "mama chariots."--> Nope, chari is short for charinko, which means bike (said to be partially derived from "charin charin," the sound of a bike's bell). They are also not one-speed.* "Chu-gakkou?" I asked. "What's Chu-ga-ko?" ... "China," she said softly in English.--> No. 中学校 (chuu-gakkou) is middle school. 中国 (chuugoku) is China. It is insane that this was never fact-checked during proofreading.But I also have to give credit where it's due. The one thing she really nails is what it's like to be back in the US after being in Japan--noticing the casual, non-deferential attitude of service staff, the loud people chatting on cell phones, the confrontational nature of car drivers. She concludes that if you live in the US, the rudeness around you is just part of life and you don't notice it, and actually it's better because everyone is more real this way: "you be you and I'll be me, and somehow despite the annoyance and noise and clumsiness, we'll have faith that we'll all get by, ourselves, together." And that Japan's bubble of politeness can also be like a hermetic seal, closing off everything, good and bad. Hmm. I'm not sure I agree, but I've also been soaking in Japan's politeness a lot longer. As much as I hate how often the politeness manifests as FAKEness (especially in the workplace among women), and how it can prevent real relationships, I do love the impeccable service and the deferential treatment. I never have a bad interaction with a service staff member, whereas in the US it's like EVERY interaction is borderline crappy and I walk away feeling worse than before. That may be more "real" but I'm not sure it's actually better in terms of everyone's happiness. (Then again, the hermetic seal isn't the healthiest either.)The other thing she nails is the realization--aided by Donald Richie's advice, "No one loves Japan, my dear"--brilliant--that she's never going to fall in love with Japan, and that's okay. It was good, but not great, and I was expecting more. I want to read a memoir of an expat in Japan who really gets it...https://translatorytokyo.wordpress.co...

  • Anne
    2018-11-09 11:46

    Interesting memoir, interesting mostly because it is demographically unusual--white woman gets involved with Japanese man, gets married. (Increasingly less unusual, but still less-often seen than the reverse; "international marriage" is also often coded to be white-Japanese, and since "gaijin" is coded usually to be white, it feels like a layer is missing). I can't speak to the gay world/s, as my gay friends are more international...). The book feels a bit like it oversells her feminism--or maybe because it is not the kind I recognize. The main flaw in the book for me is "content"-related--that is to say, she sees Japan as a relief from trapping expectations (so far so good), but takes the expat way out. But it's interesting that because she claims no obligation to a lot of social rules, that she ultimately ends up fulfilling them. Married, no steady work, caring for an elderly parent. She never really learns Japanese, despite her emphasis that Osaka is a very different scene than Tokyo, which for all its flaws of non-engagement, at least HAS a lot of (evident) foreigners around to ignore. The Osaka angle could have been a lot more interesting--it feels very gateway, because of the language thing. The role language plays is quite interesting though, because though the range of experiential options is not there, the way it pans out, in English, with the husband seems to be a non-issue with them. That itself was interesting. He was an interesting character--for reasons of discretion, I suppose, much is left undrawn. The legal/professional discretion deleted a lot of the interesting courtship stuff, too. Sneaking around is described, but it's all from a great distance. What kind of company did he work for, that sponsored his trip to Harvard (it seems...discreet somewhat annoying faux-cryptic mentions of MIT landscapes from particular buildings are mentioned), set up his apartment married life handsomely? Did he have to navigate anything at work? I'm not really sure what years this took place, though I suppose I could figure it out. It is a true "inner life" memoir, in that larger social shifts--employment, economic, household, etc.--are not really visible or tangible. She didn't do one typical expat route of freeze-drying habits from the old place and tuning out the new one. But shufu, since a huge set of debates in 1955, have been a huge lens for social insights and change, from the anti-nuclear and peace movements to radical feminist critiques of property. At the end of the book, it still seems like she didn't have any female Japanese friends, which to me was sad. And she didn't seem to have any interest or sense of historical shifts in travel or immigration, which could have given a nice kick to her work. And I would have enjoyed more concrete description of readings she did in her 4 Stories series--we get mostly flashback plot summary, no names, themes, questions, continuities. But as a memoir of "it can be done," it is fairly rare. Japanese men get bad, broad press in Eng-lang writing because most newsworthy things are done by the equivalent of grumpy old white men. So this was also refreshing in introducing 2 sympathetic male characters of different generations, even if they remained rather float-y, and a shift away from Tokyo, which was also welcome.

  • Nancy Kennedy
    2018-11-18 12:45

    Tracy Slater had a dream life. She lived in Boston, a city she loved with a passion, in an apartment that was dear to her. She had a promising academic career, teaching gender studies to undergraduates and creative writing to MBA students and to the inmates at a prison. One day, she's picked to teach East Asians in an executive MBA program how to lead teams and run meetings in English. That assignment changes her life forever.Almost immediately upon her posting to Japan, she meets Toru, one of her students. Their attraction is instant, despite an almost total lack of ability to communicate orally. Toru is what is called in Japan a salaryman, an employee of a company he most likely will work for his entire life, most likely in Japan. He's the oldest son, which tasks him with the care of his elderly and failing father, a role that further precludes him from leaving his life to join Tracy for hers in America.So, what's an independent American gal supposed to do with that set of facts? It isn't long before Tracy is jetting between Boston and Japan, trying to hang onto her old life while adopting a new one in a culture that is absolutely baffling to her, not to mention seemingly the opposite of everything she stands for. "How did I become this person? This woman, the one who would consider forfeiting her way of life, her home, her world for a man's? And for a country like Japan where women hold so little power?" she writes.Tracy tells an enchanting story of negotiating two such different worlds while she contemplates becoming what is known in Japan as a shufu, a housewife. She writes of how she begins to let go of her preconceived notion of what her life would be like. Because of her deep and abiding love for Toru, and his encouragement of her independence and patience for her emotional journey, they make it work. The author ultimately settles into a new understanding of herself. "I wanted to believe I was an independent woman, but deep down I wondered if, even more than autonomy, I prized how completely Toru took care of me, especially in his country," she writes.The book is divided into what one psychologist has called the five states of culture shock: departure, honeymoon, disintegration, reintegration, autonomy. The author is a perceptive and charming host, and she tells a story that fascinates from beginning to end, never falling into generalities or stereotypes as she introduces us to her expanding world. I'm a big fan of The Good Wife, and now of The Good Housewife!

  • Alla
    2018-10-23 10:21

    “The Good Shufu” by Tracy Slater chronicles her transformation from a single, middle-aged Bostonian college professor of business writing courses who splits her schedule giving writing classes to prison inmates, to a business writing professor for ESL Japanese/Korean students who ultimately gets married to one of these students—Toru—and makes the difficult but exciting decision to build her life with him in his native Japan.The memoir is split into the following sections: Departure, The Honeymoon Stage, The Disintegration Stage, The Reintegration Stage, and The Autonomy Stage. Each of the stages is a section long and we follow Slater as she jets back and forth between Japan and Boston, dives into the exotic Japanese culture without knowing the language or having the stomach for its food, becomes friendly with her increasingly frail Japanese father-in-law and decides to build a family with Toru despite battling infertility and her own Boston-based family’s objections about building her life and family abroad. Not helping matters are Slater’s and Toru’s culture-influenced differences in personalities: Slater is eager to seek out expats and socialize, while Toru is reserved and prefers evenings at home. Slater prefers take-out-food to cooking, while Toru prefers home-cooked meals. Slater wants to attend social functions with Toru, while Toru attends them alone—emphasizing the different lives that wives and husbands lead in a Japanese culture. I like reading travel memoirs and found this book an interesting chronicle of life in Japan and the author’s personal experiences between the American and the Japanese culture (with an example of the difference being that the Japanese culture values politeness and reservation above all, while the American culture values self-expression). Women having difficulty starting a family might enjoy this book as well, since Slater chronicles her infertility issues in a very detailed manner towards the end of the book. Overall, I found this book to be an interesting portrayal of live abroad and a meaningful read.

  • Tom
    2018-10-21 09:20

    Details are the essence of any great story, so you know there's trouble when a marriage memoir’s two lovers meet on page 15 and are in love by page 19. “The Good Shufu” reads less like a 300-page book and more like a 300-page Cliff’s Notes on the author’s adult life. Tracy Slater moves us from continent to continent and milestone to milestone, only rarely allowing us a moment to breathe in the characters, the milieu. Thus the book never meets its emotional potential. Equally frustrating is the divide between title and content: Not once does Slater actually become a real “shufu,” the Japanese term for housewife. Throughout her marriage she’s freelance-writing and earning enough money to make frequent trips back to her hometown of Boston. But even a different title couldn’t justify the book: There simply isn’t a story here. Slater’s relationship with her husband and Japan seem almost devoid of real conflict, and any trouble that might be written about at length is usually skimmed over so we can proceed to the next milestone. Only in the last 100 pages does Slater slow down as she writes, often poignantly, about the death of a father-in-law and her tumultuous struggle to conceive. But these sections, so removed from the theme of international marriage, seem to belong in another book. Slater’s prose occasionally overreaches, but it’s generally fluid and sometimes lovely—and that gives confidence that she might one day write something denser, more cohesive, and more faithful to its title.

  • Sara
    2018-11-16 12:24

    This book was a personal story of one woman's experience with culture shock. As a highly educated white woman of privilege from New England, Tracy Slater finds herself in a foreign country teaching English to Asian businessmen, and immediately realizes she's in over her head, having no formal experience with the role, knowing little to nothing of the social and gendered protocols of foreign culture, despite her past extensive travels. She meets and falls in love with one of her adult students Toru, from Osaka, Japan. Suddenly torn between her beloved home town of Boston and her budding relationship in Japan, Slater is faced with deciding her path, one of which has familiarity and comfort, the other uncertain but emotionally fulfilling. While I would not say her book is one that belies a unique experience--lots of people meet and fall in love with those from other countries and have the same cultural and social adjustments to make in the process, Slater is a writer who speaks with respect, objectivity, and grace. The book has a gentle feel about it, and there are dramatic emotional situations that tug at the heartstrings, particularly in the last third of the book. A worthy read for anyone interested in Japanese culture, the unique struggles of long-distance relationships, and memoirs.

  • Nancy
    2018-10-24 13:25

    I really enjoyed this book. It captured me right away. Not as much of a view of Japan as I had expected, it is more the story of one person's search for identity while moving between Japan and Boston. This is a wonderfully engaging memoir. Ms Slater is very honest in sharing her worries and fears and triumphs. Her love for her husband and his for her really shine through. I was surprised that she was so slow to learn Japanese, though I know it is a very difficult language. Her relationship with her father-in-law is especially touching. I hope Tracy will write more about how life continues for her family once the baby is born. I was very sorry it ended so soon. Thank you to Edelweiss for giving me a free copy in exchange for my honest review.

  • Melissa
    2018-11-07 11:35

    I picked this up because I used to live in Japan and thought I could relate to some of her story. No, I wasn't a housewife, but a lot of expat experiences are universal and I thought she might be able to provide a funny or thought provoking spin on things. Not so much. There were a few isolated moments that were hilarious (like the interaction between her and her Japanese teacher at the YWCA), but for the most part she just seemed insecure and anxious about everything. I was looking for funny anecdotes and instead got pages of rather dull minutiae of daily life and daily worries. Where was the wonder or fascination with living abroad? Where were the silly awkward moments that we all have when exploring a new country? There were some there, but they were few and far between.

  • Elena Mats
    2018-11-05 16:24

    2,5 starts. It is a book about fears and worries. The author was afraid to fall in love, get married, move to another country, find herself, get pregnant, not to get pregnant. There are not much about Japan and its customs what I wish I could find, no description of food or nature, but a lot about sad author's childhood and her prospectives to perfect adulthood. The begging was promising But in the middle of the book Japan as a Far Side of the World was lost. The second part of the book is about how the author tried to conceive and lost her father-in-law. Although, I really enjoyed the part about Kei's wedding I wish the whole book was like this.

  • Jaclyn Day
    2018-10-31 12:28

    I always enjoy memoirs about culture shock and expat living and this one was really fascinating to read. Slater is obsessed with maintaining her feminist attitude and her independence (and her love of Boston), while trying to reconcile that to the cultural norms of her new country and family. She becomes intertwined in her new family by helping her husband care for his aging, sickly father (who lives with them until shortly before he passes away). Her complicated new life also includes a heart-breaking struggle with infertility that she describes honestly and beautifully. I’d like to read a follow-up to this and get a more recent check-in. (Much of the book takes place years ago.)

  • Kristine
    2018-10-31 15:20

    The Good Shufu by Tracy Slater is a free NetGalley ebook that I began reading in late June quite abruptly, since I learned it would be 'archived' (unavailable for download) in about three days time. Sheesh, gimme some time, peeps!Immediately, Slater's tone is haphazard and scattershot, except in matters of Toru, where there's real feeling, determination, and warmth. This leaves the stories that make up their life together to be threadbare with anxiety in some spots and warm-woven with assuredness in others.

  • sanaz
    2018-10-30 13:21

    First I was not that absorbed in the the story of this book. It was another report on how exotic and different japan is with a side order of how the writer felt unconsciously superior because she was a working scholar rather than a submissive housewife. But after this half was done and the writer started to genuinely interact and understand the people around her and feel where their values and traditions (though some bizarre or unacceptable to western cultures) are coming from, I felt I am reading something worthwhile. I read the rest of the book in two fast hours.