Yakuza Moon and Give-away

Title: Yakuza Moon
Author: Shoko Tendo
Publisher: Kodansha, International (originally published 2004)
Number of pages: 195
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

My mother has a note I wrote her when I was about five years old. It’s yellowed now, but it has the same message I’ve always felt:

Dear Mother,

I what to de a good lattle gril.

Love, Meredith

I couldn’t spell, but I knew I wanted to be a good little girl. This sentiment has followed me all of my life, even through college. I was simply too afraid to be anything else. The idea of being drunk, or high, and therefore left to someone else’s whims, was too terrifying for me to ever lose my self control. I ended up being good out of fear as much as intention.

But, I always wondered what it would be like to live dangerously. To abandon caution, to live on the wild side, to give in to one’s rebellious nature.  This book by Shoko Tendo shows us just what that kind of life is like.

A yakuza’s (gangster’s) daughter, Shoko was born into a world of privilege which quickly evaporated around her. When her father fell into enormous debt, the collectors came to their home and demanded payment. Her mother cried, her father raged, her parents fought, and her life quickly became a living hell. She left that hell for another: the world of drugs.

Like watching a train wreck, one car irrefutably piling into another, I’ve been enmeshed in Shoko’s memoir all day unable to tear myself away from her story.

The misfit who had been bullied at school, the innocent child who was almost raped by Mizugushi, the dutiful daughter who would help Mom clean up after one of Dad’s rampages, the little kid who always had to watch out she didn’t get Dad mad, none of these were the real me. I used to think about the events of my childhood as if they’d happened to someone else. It was much easier that way. But I had ended up reinventing myself too many times, and now it was impossible to tell who the real Shoko was. (p. 81)

Shoko’s story is a heart wrenching one, which tells with complete honesty about her life. It is one quite different from mine in so many respects, and yet it is the same in that we were both little girls who wanted to find a place where we’d belong. Anyone can see that Shoko’s heart is huge, and her search for love and acceptance is an agonizing one.

I am giving one copy of this book to Mel of The Reading Life because he has read six books for the Japanese Literature Challenge 3; more by four than I have! But, I have another copy to give away. If you are interested in being entered into the running, simply leave a comment here. If you want, you may relate it to the life you had growing up. Afterall, our experiences form much of who we are today.

Raised with strict ideas of honor, Tendo was both spoiled and scolded by the tattooed men who frequented her family home. In response she joined a gang, took drugs and became the lover of several gangsters before near-fatal beatings and drug overdoses convinced her to change her life.” ~Rueters

Tendo…hails from a section of Japanese society that most of her compatriots would rather did not exist. Her story…shines a light into a dark and little understood corner of modern Japan.” ~The Guardian

Emotionally complex and thoroughly heart-rending, this book is recommended for anyone searching for a more thorough and personal understanding of Japanese society.” ~Publishers Weekly

27 thoughts on “Yakuza Moon and Give-away”

  1. I grew up very much like you – I always wanted to be a good girl and please my parents. Even as an adult there are some things I could never do because I know it would disappoint them. I do love a good memoir and this one sounds fascinating, so I'd like to be entered. Thanks!


  2. I can't say my life has been much different than yours or bermudiaonion's! My mom always asks me why I was so scared of her, but I was just scared of disappointing her. To this day I'm scared of disappointing my loved ones, almost to a fault. I'm trying really hard to learn that you can't please everyone! I'd love to win this one, it sounds fascinating. Thank you for offering the giveaway!


  3. I am a notorious "pleaser". Even when it is to my own detriment. It kind of annoys me sometimes! What would it feel like to be a bad girl just once? Anyway, I digress. I've seen this book everywhere, and need to get my hands on it! Please enter me! rnawrot at cfl dot rr dot com


  4. Remarkably beautiful review! I don't believe I'll request an entry, as I have the feeling this book would be a bit hard-core for me, but I did enjoy peeking into its pages through the bits your shared with us and your opinions! I also love your train simile!


  5. I would like to read this book, which you describe beautifully, having been a "good girl" all my life (the first words out of my mouth in a new situation are invariably "I'm sorry"), but the pile is just too big right now, so I will pass on your generous giveaway. I'm glad you are giving Mel a copy, though. He deserves it; he has read so much!


  6. Hi, I would love to be entered in the giveaway. Being a good girl wasn't easy. I did what my parents told me or what they expect me to do. It's like not having my own mind. Of course, I soon realized I had to have my own identity. At my job, I really work hard and I try to make a good impression on my co-workers. I get frustrated and angry at myself if I don't finish a task, but I think I get more frustrated because I'd be afraid to disappoint them.


  7. oh, I would love to read this book. I wanted to be a good little girl too growing up, however, I had a very adventurous side that needed excitement….and it got me in a lot of trouble. By the grace of God I did not end up on several paths I could have.btw, I finished the Housekeeper and the Professor…I loved it. I'm on to the next one you recommended!!! Thank you for hosting this…..I would never have picked up these books otherwise.


  8. Sara, it makes me so happy you're liking Japanese literature. You are really adventurous to read this genre; so many people stay away. Did I recommend an Ishiguro to you? I can't remember, but I think so. This one is especially fascinating not only because of the world it explores, but because it's all true!


  9. I'm so relieved that you found this book pretty good. It's just that I liked the cover so much, I have so wanted it to be good. Please count me in the giveaway!I think I experienced what most girls probably do, a pressure to be good. I like to think that at some point in my life (probably early 20s) that I broke free. To some degree anyway.


  10. Hmm, I don't know if I'm necessarily a good girl or a bad girl. I'm a stubborn girl, for sure. Of course, I'd like to please my parents, but if I don't do what they want me to, they often complain that I'm being too stubborn. But I happen to agree with them that a drugged up life isn't a happy one, so in that sense I'm not a bad girl, I suppose. I've never heard of this author before, and it sounds like something emotionally involving to read! I love reading your personal reminiscences about your reading experience by the way!


  11. This sounds fascinating, Bellezza! I would love to be entered in your contest. I have always been a people pleaser and sometimes that gets me into trouble. I need to work on my boundaries at times…awww, a work in progress :DHope you are having a Wonderful Sunday, Bellezza! I send good wishes and prayers to your son to!


  12. See how good I am? I managed to NOT read your review or the comments – well, mostly – because Yakuza Moon is my selection for the Japanese Reading Challenge. I'm so anxious to get reading, but life being what it is, the book is just sitting there intriguing the heck out of me.What I do know is this – the administrator on another site I visit gave himself the handle of "Wunderyakuza". I never had a clue what it meant. Now, I believe I'll make a concerted effort to play by the site's rules!It will be double fun to come back and read your review after I've written mine.


  13. You always write such beautiful reviews Bellezza…I absolutely love them! I grew up wanting to be a good boy. I was scared to be bad..scared of the bad things out there. I was one of the "nerdy kids" for much of my life and then I decided, let's see what this other side is all about :/ And I rebelled. Now I'm back to the nerdy kid 😉 I'd love to read this one!


  14. Hah, we share the same life story. I never became the bad boy my wide shoulders and my father's insane gene could have led me to. I was too obsessed with being poster child for my mother to love. That's why everything I read is so obsessed with the bad guys and wild, dark annals of humanity. Living dangerously can only happen through the books I read. Good review and I would love to be entered in the giveaway.


  15. Yet another giveaway Bellezza! You really are a generous person!I'd love to be entered for the chance to get this book. Sounds like a very good one.I think 'good' is very relative. And in some ways, I tend to believe that most of us grow up wanting to be nice and good and all that. Externally, I've been good all my life. Model student and all that. But internally, I think I've struggled much with myself and to come to terms with my own unique identity. I'd like to believe that I've sort of allowed myself to break away from the shackles that confine us to neat little boxes. It's great to be good and whatnot, but it might be equally as great, if not more, to be able to do and behave as we feel comfortable, regardless of what society terms as 'good' in general.


  16. Oh I've been dying to read this book ever since I first saw it on your site! I certainly would like to join the raffle :)In a way, I can relate to what you said about being afraid to do something wrong as you were growing up. My dad is well respected by his peers and by many others in our Christian congregation, and my older brother grew up to be a similarly respectable man. So ever since I was a kid, I've been carrying the name my father gave us with a mindful attitude towards my actions and behavior. For as long as I can remember, friends and relatives automatically looked at me as "good boy" simply because I was my father's son.So, in a way, I guess you can say that there was that pressure to be good. But it's not something I regret or feel bad about though. I can say that I was raised in a fashion where it didn't feel like pressure to me, but guidance brought about by loving concern. I remember early this year when I was on vacation with a bunch of workmates and they were all getting drunk at the beach and some of them asked me why they've never seen me get drunk even though I drink with them. I said that I like to know my limits and getting drunk is something I never want to experience. I thought about that and I honestly didn't feel like I was being pressured to do things a certain way. I chose that, and my choices now aren't made just because I'm afraid of disappointing my parents.I'm truly thankful of my parents, because sometimes I really do feel that there were times when I would've done some pretty awful things to other people if I hadn't been raised the way I had been. I believe we all need some guidance, specially while we're young.


  17. Interesting, I was very much the same way. I knew I would have my mother's attention by being good. She would compliment me on this while my brothers where excused for all their foibles (boys will be boys, according to her).It is so sweet for you to still have this note, precious. You can enter me in this giveaway, thank-you Meredith 🙂


  18. Sounds like a great book. I love memoirs. 2nd favorite genre (#1 is fiction). I was definitely a people pleaser. I still am to some extent, but I am getting better at not caring what people think. But it's tough not to!


  19. This book has always sounded interesting so please enter me in the contest! Great review as always Bellezza. I don't think I was a particularly good or particularly bad/wild child and learned very early on that I shouldn't rely upon the judgment of others for my self worth. As long as I am true to myself I really don't pay much attention to what others think me.


  20. I am of the opinion that sometimes you just have to say "F**K IT!" and do something that you want but that your head may try to hold you back from. short of self harm of course! you do have to be real with yourself and not live for, or through, others only. btw, i'd love to win the book!


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