My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki follows two main protagonists, Jane Takagi, the producer of the tv show My American Wife!, and the wife of one of the Beef-Ex executives, Akiko Ueno. My American Wife! is a Beef-Ex (a consortium of different meat companies in the United States) sponsored, propaganda that is trying to promote meat to Japanese housewives. The meat industry in the United States is no longer booming and Beef-Ex hopes to export their stock. Prior to producing the show, Jane Takagi was ambling in life. Jane sees the show as an opportunity to build something worthwhile in her life. Often, this leads Jane to challenging the white-centric, heteronormative directives of the Beef-Ex executives. Interestingly, the more Jane rebels and films whomever, whatever, and however she wants, the more Akiko tunes into the show. Ruth Ozeki weaves Jane and Akiko’s storylines together as the novel progresses in an impressively smooth manner. As Jane become more comfortable and asserts herself in her producer role, the more Akiko takes space for herself. Akiko become healthier, more comfortable with her body, and more certain of what she wants from life. Both Akiko and June have traits that speak to me as a reader. They are both vulnerable and determined. They are curious to know the stories of others. I also found the surrounding characters to be pretty well developed. As much as I hated “Johnny,” Ozeki created a very believable abusive man. This was my first Ozeki novel and I am eager to dive into more of her work!
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