From Publishers Weekly
When Furiya started eating lunches in the elementary school cafeteria, she was profoundly embarrassed by the rice balls her mom packed instead of a sandwich like all the other kids ate. She was already feeling self-conscious about being the only Japanese family in her 1960s Indiana hometown, and her parents' insistence on continuing to eat their native cuisine—they grew their own vegetables and drove for hours to visit big-city supermarkets that stocked Japanese imports—was frustrating because it intensified the differences between her and her classmates. But the exotic dishes were also a source of delight, and Furiya ends each chapter with a recipe for one of her favorite meals. There is more to the story than food, though, and she describes the anger she feels when shopkeepers make fun of her father's accent, or the amazement when her mother takes her back to Japan, with the same vividness she applies to recreating the sensations of her first taste of wasabi. Though she continues to chafe against her parents' emotional reticence, partly inspired by their arranged marriage, Furiya also comes to appreciate the values they handed down to her, and it's this love that dominates her nicely told story. (Jan.)
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In her syndicated newspaper columns, Furiya has written about Asian cooking as well as growing up in the only Japanese family in a small Indiana town. In this memoir-cum-cookbook, she expands on those subjects in chapters that close with family recipes. Food is always at the center of Furiya's stories, which begin with her grade-school realization that her bento-box lunch sets her apart from her 1960s peers. In a voice that's angry, yearning, and direct, she remembers the bewildering pull between American and Japanese culture, and her complex struggles to form a cohesive, proud cultural identity. The specifics are moving and vivid, as is Furiya's universal wonderment about who her parents are, how they ended up together, and what her own grown-up life will be: "Someday you will shoot and follow your arrow," her father tells her. "My arrow, it landed here." Pair this with Diana Abu-Jabar's beautiful The Language of Baklava
(2005), another culinary memoir of growing up with immigrant parents. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved