Summary (from Goodreads):
Ruth Ozeki’s mesmerizing debut novel has captivated readers and reviewers worldwide. When documentarian Jane Takagi-Little finally lands a job producing a Japanese television show that just happens to be sponsored by an American meat-exporting business, she uncovers some unsavory truths about love, fertility, and a dangerous hormone called DES. Soon she will also cross paths with Akiko Ueno, a beleaguered Japanese housewife struggling to escape her overbearing husband.
To be honest, the summary makes the novel sound better than I think it really is. I had a tough time reading through it.
At 361-pages, there are 12 chapters. Each chapter bounces back and forth between the characters’ point of views. There are three different female characters we follow, but one character is only followed two or three times throughout the book. The other two bounce back and forth; one being in first person, the other being written in third person. Sounds confusing? It is.
We follow Jane Takagi-Little through her journey of “meats” where she documents for a Japanese television show. Through this, she meets a woman named Akiko Ueno and discovers she is having problems at home with her husband. Jane also meets other women and discovers they have problems of their own due to the meat industry. Jane herself ends up running into a bit of trouble.
A huge theme of this novel is feminism. We follow most of the female characters and the men in the book aren’t exactly “women-friendly.” The point of the Japanese TV show is to have the “perfect” family with “attractive” wives.
I couldn’t attach myself to most of the characters. I didn’t create that character-reader bond with any of them. I felt a little sorry for Akiko, but I think that was mostly because that poor woman just could not get a break. Ruth Ozeki really made that character suffer and didn’t let up one bit. The characters drive the story and if I don’t think the characters are likable, then I’m not going to enjoy the plot.
My Year Of Meats by Ruth L. Ozeki gets 2 out of 5 stars.
Fed on a media diet of really bad news, we live in a perpetual state of repressed panic. We are paralyzed by bad knowledge, from which the only escape is playing dumb. Ignorance becomes empowering because it enables people to live. Stupidity becomes proactive, a political statement. Our collective norm. –Ruth L. Ozeki, My Year Of Meats