ForeWord Magazine selects From Japan With Love as Book of the Year finalist
The Modesto Bee newspaper features author Mary Ruggieri on the front page.
Reviewed by Kam Aures for Rebeccas Reads (3/08)
“From Japan With Love” is a wonderful memoir illustrating what life was like in Post-War Japan through the eyes of Mary Ruggieri, a member of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). The story of the era is told through a composition of journal entries, personal letters to friends and family, and photographs. Throughout the book there are also boxes explaining some of the historical figures, places and events of the time period.
Tech sergeant Ruggieri’s journey began in October of 1946 when she boarded the Army Transport Admiral Sims headed for Yokohama, Japan. The luxury of the trip with “maid service and swell meals” was a far cry from what was to await her and her shipmates when they arrived in the distant land. When they pulled into the harbor they saw the destruction and devastation that the country had suffered at the hands of war in the form of sunken ships and the impoverished manner in which the native people were dressed. Their living quarters for their occupation in Japan were Quonset huts which were void of any luxuries. Each woman had ‘8’9’ of space into which to place a cot, a foot locker, and a wall locker.” While the accommodations were less than welcoming, the American GIs that were stationed there made up for it by treating the women like royalty with barrages of parties and assistance. One of these GI’s the author became especially fond of and started dating.
Ruggieri’s time spent in Japan was definitely not all work. On the weekends she had the opportunity to take some incredible trips and see some amazing sights. While the travel to and from these destinations was not always the most pleasant journey, the experiences that she had more than made up for any hardships along the way. The book contains over 400 photographs which definitely enhance the story that she tells. There are pictures of the Quonset huts, Japanese people, the hotels they stayed at on their trips, Mount Fuji, and plenty of the author herself and other members of the WAC. Even though Ruggieri is very skilled at writing descriptive passages, the multitudes of pictures really provide you with a complete picture of everything that happened.
To have saved all of these letters, journals and pictures from over sixty-years ago and to be able to compile them to create a book as complete as “From Japan With Love” is incredible. The memoir is well-written, thought-provoking, and insightful. Her writing is so descriptive that you truly feel like you are there with her and her humor and straightforwardness will definitely keep you entertained. “From Japan With Love” is an excellent book and I highly recommend it!