Yakuza Moon by Shoko Tendo, Translated by Louise Heal
“I was born in the winter of 1968, a yakuza’s daughter.”
Right from the get go, clear and simple, Shoko says it straight up (if you had missed it in the title). We have all these preconceived ideas of what the Yakuza means to us, and perhaps it is those ideas we hold as we read the book.
But some of it might surprise you.
I know a lot of the reviews out there, weren’t all that positive, as they felt she should have included more of the journey, instead of rushing through it. I think it was the mistake of the publishers. I was under the impression that this was a biography, but as a memoir, I felt that it stood well enough, especially considering it was her first book. Anyway that is just something you want to remember if you read this…
“Once when I was drawing a picture in front of the house, one of the women
in our street came over. She bent down and whispered in my ear, ‘
Shoko-chan, did you know that your big brother
isn’t your big brother? You mom had him before she met your dad.’”
“I was down on my hands and knees wiping the floor, so I was hidden between
two desks. When I heard the familiar voice of a teacher
who was always kind to me, I pricked up my ears.
‘Shoko Tendo? She can draw, and maybe her basic reading and writing’s OK,
but that’s about it. There’s not much you can teach an idiot like that.’
She sounded disgusted and I saw her toss a sheet of paper onto her desk.
The other teachers gathered around to look.
‘You’re not kidding!’ they laughed.
It was my recently graded test paper. I might not have done very well on the test,
but I’d tried my hardest…”
This book won’t be for everyone. Shoko Tendo is quite graphic at times, and may be a lot to handle. However she tries to explain her thoughts and feelings, and it does in a way read like a diary entry. It is in this way that we follow her from her early years, her rebellious teen years, the death of her father, and the abusive relationships she got into.
You can tell she tries to write as a way to explain the situations in her life, in a way, making sense of it as she tells her tale. As with a lot of authors though, she seemed to rush through the end. Perhaps there were things that she just didn’t want to reveal as of yet, or perhaps she was still mulling over the situations that were more recent to her. In any case, though rushed, we get a sense that she has figured out most of what her path is.
Though relatively short, the book isn’t an easy read. I wanted to scream, “Get out of that relationship NOW!” as I read through the pages, and tried to encourage her to think of a better life. She did in the end, but dang, the journey was a crazy one for her to get through. Especially when she brings her sister into the picture, and you emotionally invest in her as well.
The book is one that tries to tell their life story to encourage the reader to find more, but at the same time, it may be the fault, as it does feel incomplete at times.
Regardless, it was an interesting read, and I would suggest it to those that could read through the years of abusive she tells of.
Currently she is in love her her daughter, and there is another book out. Unfortunately it isn’t translated to English (sucks, as I would have liked to read it!).
Anyway thanks Brutal Turtle for the suggestion, and welcome any book suggestions from my readers as well :)