Reviews

Speak, Okinawa: A Memoir by Elizabeth Miki Brina

bookishbulletin's review against another edition

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emotional informative reflective sad medium-paced

4.5

smasaki5's review

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adventurous challenging emotional reflective sad medium-paced

4.0

andrewkim221's review

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emotional reflective medium-paced

4.0

cowboyariel's review

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emotional reflective medium-paced

4.0

This was so beautifully written and vulnerable, in a way that was necessary to tell this story. As a mixed Asian American woman as well parts of the book made me emotional and gave me some things to reflect on. 

The chapters on Okinawan history were informative and important, but as others have said it didn’t always cross over thematically narrative chapters or have a sharp focus. It almost felt like a separate book or something. So that’s my main criticism, but other than that really liked it 

mitskacir's review

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4.0

What I loved most about this book was the really complex way Brina characterized her parents and herself. Although she often cast judgment on her parents, she described many different aspects of their characters, complicating how I felt about them. In one chapter, she would describe her father's extreme overbearing parenting in a way that made me cringe, and in the next describe his actions that truly showed his unconditional love and acceptance of her. Her mother was portrayed overall more sympathetically, but Brina did not shy away from describing her own deeply cruel and indifferent perceptions of her mother that she had growing up. Sometimes I hated Brina, and sometimes I fully understood her.

Although I didn't really enjoy [b:Racial Melancholia, Racial Dissociation: On the Social and Psychic Lives of Asian Americans|39103327|Racial Melancholia, Racial Dissociation On the Social and Psychic Lives of Asian Americans|David L. Eng|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1547004263l/39103327._SY75_.jpg|60695051], a very dense psychoanalytical read, I really connected some of the things I read there with Brina's relationship with her Okinawan mother - or, as Racial Melancholia would say, her "bad", racialized mother. For this alone, I feel like was worth it for me to read Racial Melancholia, and I was very interested in how Brina's experience could have been a case study for it. Both these books have also made me reflect more on my relationship with my Japanese family and the way that my perceptions may be influenced by their racialization. I really appreciated Brina's unflinching reflections on her own actions toward her mother and on her positionally within her mixed race family.

fortunatesam52's review

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emotional informative reflective sad medium-paced

5.0

annamalis's review

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dark emotional informative reflective sad medium-paced

5.0

chan_bean's review

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5.0

I have to give this book 5 stars if for for no other reason (and there are so many other reason to give it 5 stars) than the fact that it was a memoir that I enjoyed from start to finish. I picked this book up right before leaving the library and had to stop going home, sit down, and read the first three chapters all in one go.

Brina's writing is just so approachable and so vulnerable. This memoir is really ambitious -- it is equal parts about growing up biracial, growing up the child of an immigrant, growing up period, the history of Okinawa, the present state of Okinawa, generational trauma, inter-generational communication and differences, power imbalances in relationships, and love. That is so much to cover. But Brina does it in such a way that it doesn't feel forced. I put this book down feeling like I had genuinely learned something about every single one of these topics. It was hard to put down.

I really, really loved everything about this memoir, but the relationship between Brina's parents was what really gripped me. I went into this novel expecting to hate Mr. Brina -- the author mentions that her father has some rather conservative views, he was a soldier in the U.S. military that still currently occupies Okinawa, and he and his wife couldn't even communicate effectively when he married her and took her to the United States. But their relationship is so intricate: he is really doing his best to be a good husband, as best as he knows how. And Mrs. Brina is so enveloped in grief and trying to cope with her life in the U.S., that it feels like being a good wife shouldn't even have to be a priority for her. At a glance, I wanted to condemn their relationship as toxic and irredeemable. But the way that Brina writes about them... man, it's obvious that they have love for each other, and they love their daughter so, so much. It's heartbreaking, and reminded me that love comes in many forms. Some of them, rather ugly.

I don't know how to describe how much I loved reading this book. I'm really hoping I can find other memoirs like it. Speak, Okinawa is really inspiring me to give the entire genre another chance.

oujo_umi's review

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emotional reflective medium-paced

5.0

calmar46's review

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dark emotional informative reflective

4.0