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.
Brina’s uniquely structured memoir, which investigates her own past as the daughter of an Okinawan mother and a white American father, and the history of the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa ... These episodes inform the rest of Brina’s forthright and tunneling inquiry into how she came to understand the many inherited layers of herself and her racial identity. Deeply human portraits of her parents emerge alongside her own candid snapshots: stories of both disappointments and unconfined, unconditional love. Artfully concerned with the DNA-altering effects of trauma and the almost unfathomable power of language, Brina’s work opens a window on a lifelong search for peace, and the life-giving work of listening.