Growing up in Kyoto, Mika always does what’s expected of her — she gets a proper education, is mindful of her manners, and marries a successful company man everyone admires. As the wife of a husband who works every day, most nights, and weekends, her marriage is filled with waiting. Nothing changes after she moves to San Francisco, accompanying her husband on his latest assignment. She convinces herself that waiting is part of being a wife, that waiting is part of loving.
Mika might never have wanted more if she hadn’t met Harvey. Museum curator and a married father of two grown children, Harvey is tall, blue-eyed, and most important, the first man who takes time for her. With Harvey comes the gift of red roses, laughter over wine, and the pleasure of sex.
When Mika finds out she is pregnant, she discovers that to Harvey she is just another yellow cab. Perhaps under his breath that’s what he calls them all — inexperienced, fresh-off-the-plane women he picks up when he needs a thrill.
After Mika agrees to an abortion, Harvey expects she will disappear from his life. But that isn’t Mika’s way. Just leaving isn’t enough for Mika. Instead, she decides to keep the baby and sets out on a calculated plan of revenge.
Getting Even draws on the gritty and vengeful world of Gone Girl, as well as the submissive yet absurdly committed mindset of the female protagonist in The Woman in the Dunes. A social thriller that ingeniously pits two cultures and sets of morals, Japanese and American, against each other and with an outcome that destroys them both.
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I was born and raised in Osaka, Japan. In my early twenties, I moved to New York City on a temporary job assignment and I’ve lived in the USA ever since. My first book, New York Loft Living, written in Japanese and published in Japan, is a memoir that recalls that first year in Manhattan. After getting married, I moved west, enrolled in and graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in psychology. Getting Even is my first English-language book.
The longer story? I started to read to escape the boredom of conformity and expectation I felt growing up female in Japan, inside the high walls of culture and society’s norms. Back then, in the 1970s, Japan was still a man’s society — more so than most advanced countries. Submissiveness and the culture of cute were epidemic, like a plague, among girls and women. No one actually died from it, but surely many suffered psychologically and mentally.
After a job assignment took me to New York City, my relationship to conformity started to change. In America, there’s more tolerance for deviance from the norm; the margins of life open up and allow for options of what is right and wrong. Look at something as simple as time. People live in different time zones, in the same country. My 7 a.m. in California is not my friend’s time in New York, but each is true. Even better, time changes in the summer and winter to fit various lifestyles! It’s not a big deal, I know, but I always thought the concept of time was absolute, and that ever since the Big Bang its absolute nature never changed. I always rushed to catch the 8:15 train no matter how crowded it was, never mind in a mere seven minutes there would be another train. Have you ever seen videos of Japanese train station attendants pushing and squeezing passengers onto the trains? I’ve been there. In my mind, time was absolute, strict, immobile; and something I should obey.
What I learned is there are many opinions and they all work. It depends on what you want and where you are in your life. It wasn’t like thunder striking people and they are frozen in time and space. I discovered that life is a process. Fluid. And that it was okay to be me, regardless of how others thought about things.
The NYC assignment was for two years but I extended my stay and started to work as a freelance writer. I ended up as a “career refugee” for a decade, working as a waitress, as a deputy director for the Japanese National Tourist Office, as a translator for a dot com company, and most recently, as an ICU nurse.
And now I’ve circled back to being a writer. Before I die, I have to check this off my bucket list: to write five books and not give up.
So here I am.