A searing, deeply candid memoir about a young woman's journey to understanding her complicated parents — her mother an Okinawan war bride, her father a Vietnam veteran — and her own, fraught cultural heritage ... Clear-eyed and profoundly humane, Speak,Okinawa is a startling accomplishment — a heartfelt exploration of identity, inheritance, forgiveness and what it means to be an American.
Brina uses simple, direct language, often in the subject-verb-object format, to her advantage in order to paint blunt pictures, which reminds readers of her mother ... Each setting Brina paints is honest and, at times, brutal, whether it be a depiction of the Battle of Okinawa or an analysis of her parents’ marriage ... Brina’s awareness of her faults is as refreshing as it is hard to read. It can feel like we are reading about our own mistakes, but she does this to show that it is not too late to turn back and correct our wrongs. Speak, Okinawa is a beautiful request, from the prodigal daughter of an oppressed land, to take the time to listen to one another.
... poignant ... The memoir becomes a testament to the importance of their lives as Asian women, as mother and daughter, and an apology for all the years Brina thought otherwise ... strongest when Brina is recounting, with piercing candidness and clarity, the almost claustrophobic world of an only child and her parents — their shifting allegiances, the wounds they inflict on each other and their rocky path toward acceptance, apology and forgiveness. The memoir is also a portrait of the devastating effects of imperialism and racism on a person’s identity, self-worth and relationships—and offers a perspective on how a person can combat these legacies.