SPOILERSThe Bride's Kimono
by Sujata Massey
I have a lot of thoughts and while I don't usually do so, I decided to read some amazon reviews before writing this up to see if I'm being sensitive. Learning that the author has lived in England, US, and Japan has me all sorts of confused about the characterizations in the book and it looks like I'm not alone.
I was initially very excited for this book. It's not the first book following the protagonist but it's the first I've read and will probably be my only one by this author. It's about a biracial (I only mention because her asian-american heritage is talked about CONSTANTLY) antique dealer named Rei who is enlisted to courier priceless Edo-era kimono to a museum exhibit in Washington DC from Japan. She has only lived in Japan for a few years and was previously living America (I think california, maybe) but it's like 2005 and she doesn't know how to use a computer (she uses one of these to type up her lecture notes: http://salestores.com/brdptyplwopr.html
), ebay is completely foreign to her, but she has an ipod.
One of the kimono she brings over is stolen out of her hotel room in America and in the process of solving the case she meets all kinds of terrible terrible Americans. Every American she meets is terrible and rude. From the concierge, to the police who randomly accuse her of being a prostitute after seeing her kissing a guy on a metro while wearing a kimino. It was a very weird and illogical scene. And then her bosses at the museum who almost immediately turn on her and use her notes to give their own lecture and leave Rei with only a few minutes of her allotted 30.
I don't know. There's just so much that had my hackles raised. Rei's deciding between two boyfriends. One is japanese and the other scottish and her line of thinking against the scottish one is that their babies would only be a quarter japanese and how unfair for them! But the japanese guy gets mad if she wants to spend any money at all because he's rich and she's not so anytime she wants to go out he accuses her of wanting his money. I don't know I'm having a lot of trouble with it and find this line of thinking really weird for a californian raised by mixed race parents for 20+ years.
Not that there's only stupid stereotypes for the Americans! She gets stuck with some Japanese tourists because she got her airline tickets and hotel rom through a discount program and the Japanese girl she sits next to on the plane is on a vacation before her arranged marriage and is looking to have a fling with a hot american guy and SHOP SHOP SHOP and then go back home to be a stay at home wife. Rei is taken aback by this floosy but then heavily makes out with the scottish guy on a metro when she's still dating the japanese guy (and then later sleeps with him, too). I DON'T UNDERSTAND.