I completed reading your book a week back… and I had several emotions running through my heart. The first one was of an overwhelming desire to give you a tight hug and say “you are so beautiful”. We have a saying in my mother tongue Tamil that “The beauty of your heart will be reflected on your face”, basically means that someone is beautiful only when they have a beautiful heart inside. You are beautiful because you do have a very beautiful heart inside. For only a kind and beautiful heart can still separate the terrible experience of a culture from what is good in it and not trash the entire culture as terrible. There is not a shred of hatred that I see anywhere in the book for the Japanese culture, even though you were exposed to its dark underbelly.
The second emotion that I felt was one of deep sadness. In India we hold Japan very high up in the moral/ethical scale because trains run on time, people are respectful, the place is absolutely clean, their dedication to the martial arts, the samurai pride, people standing in a queue even when disaster strikes, no looting happens even when people have lost everything (the images of orderly queues when the Kobe earthquake happened) and so on. One of our freedom fighters, Subhas Chandra Bose, is highly respected in Japan and was helped by them during World War II to attack the Britishers who had colonized us. Allegedly, his ashes are kept in an urn at the Renkoji temple but there is a huge debate (yet unsettled) about the veracity of the claim. Our current Prime Minister has very close ties with the Japanese PM and they are allies. So in many ways, the Japanese culture is held up as an example that we should emulate. This book shattered that near “perfect” image. The first time that the image got dented was when I heard from some of my leaders in the corporate world that women hardly get a chance to grow in the Japanese corporate world as they are considered fit to serve tea or answer the phone and nothing more. The feminist in me immediately got rankled and I started reading up about that. Now, your book just completely shattered that image. While I will continue to admire Japan for some of the things that I wrote about …. its social acceptance of child porn just doesn’t work. Am hoping they do something to rectify that.
Stacy, am glad that you wrote this book. I admire your courage to relive those horrific moments … and still staying sane to pen them down. Your style of writing made me almost see what you were seeing and feel what you were feeling, so very powerful !! Guess what, when you had your bike accident as a little girl, I was a month old :). Its no surprise that I stumbled onto your blog and then the book. Some karmic connection you have to the East.
I am not writing a review of your book because its actually an autobiography and I have no business to review that. Thats why am sharing my thoughts and feelings with you and other readers of my blog. I have been promoting your book with all my friends because I think its important for everyone to read it, not to trash the Japanese culture but to use this book and look into their own cultures and see what the dark underbelly contains. Just as I came up with several things that need to change in the Indian culture, am sure, everyone who reads your book will find something in their respective cultures that needs changing. For starters I can think of several across the world – female genital mutilation, using small shoes to stop the girl’s feet from growing because small feet are considered pretty, wearing neck rings to elongate the neck, the rape victim being forced to marry the rapist…. the only common thread that I see is, women are usually made to stand in the muck of the cultural underbelly and suffer through it, while the men usually are the perpetrators. Maybe I am biased because I am a woman, but the fact that women get the raw deal in most situations seems statistically right.
I wish you and Gorgeous strength and lots of love. I pray that your wounds heal and the nightmares never come. I also have a book suggestion – “Journey of the souls” by Dr. Michael Newton. It might help you with finding some answers as to why you and Gorgeous had to endure what you have.
With love and a big virtual hug,