Title:Japan took the J.A.P. Out of Me
Author:Lisa Fineberg Cook
Recommended?To expatriates everywhere! Or to anyone that might ever someday be an expat; also to fans of Elizabeth Gilbert
What I Have to Say: I tend to enjoy memoirs, especially when they involve Japan. If I had understood how LITTLE this one actually did involve Japan, I probably wouldn't have read it. I went into the book excited to read about the Japanese culture and came out feeling like it could have taken place anywhere. I'm glad that I didn't know it would be like that beforehand, because I probably would have missed out on what turned out to be a great book.
Lisa Fineberg Cook and I have NOTHING in common. Well, very little, at least. I find her to be bratty, snobby, self-involved, and self-inclined. She is the kind of person that some of my friends might occasionally be friends with, and I would just never get it. This entire memoir is basically just her whining about Nagoya, Japan and how it is different from Beverly Hills/L.A. She's also an avid smoker (although she does occasioanlly try to deny this), and anyone that knows me knows that this is an immediate deal breaker for me. (I feel bad saying these things about the author, but I'm sure she would think I am too stuffy and moral for her tastes as well, so it's all good. Our ideas of fun are just very different.)
Now you might be thinking - but wait, I thought you "really enjoyed this book." And the fact is that, despite not really liking Lisa and knowing that she and I would NOT get along in life, I did like it. It was a fast-paced, witty, fun, and easy read. I would't go so far as to say that it's laugh out loud funny, but I did find myself smiling and laughing in my head on a regular basis.
More than that, though, she really does get across what it feels like to be an ex-patriot. I've been an ex-pat for over two years now, and I could relate on so may levels to the things she was going through. I would have dealt with them differently than she did, but she really made me understand that an ex-pat is an ex-pat no matter where they are. I could have written a similar book whining about Paris.
Reading about her experiences made me feel a sense of solidarity with her and helped me to understand her where everywhere else I just couldn't.
Oddly enough, despite my complaints, I found this to be an extremely enjoyable read that I literally could not put down. I read it in two sittings (I don't read books in one sitting, so this is pretty awesome for me).
Summary:This humorous, moving, and insightful debut memoir follows a young newlywed from Beverly Hills to Nagoya, Japan, where her husband has a new job.