McKendry’s debut memoir begins with recollections of a childhood in Japan before shifting focus to her new life in the Midwest with her American husband. The author opens with traumatic memories of her alcoholic father beating her mother. But her childhood wasn’t entirely unhappy; McKendry shares several pleasant recollections, like enjoying the apple pie her father purchased for her 10th birthday. The story continues in chronological order: learning English at school, meeting and marrying husband David—an American stationed at an Air Force base in Tokyo—and her subsequent immigration to the United States. Shortly after their arrival, McKendry gives birth to two sons; this, however, doesn’t stop her from pursuing her education and ultimately earning her MBA. She climbs the ranks at Chrysler, detailing her career there with a lengthy chapter. There are setbacks along the way—financial troubles, a debilitating car accident—but, ultimately, McKendry’s story is one of success. The author’s exhaustive research into Japanese–American relations, dating back to the late 1800s, sets this memoir apart from similar titles. She contextualizes not only her own experiences, but those of her ancestors. As some readers might presume, one of the reasons the author delves into her history is to discover what turned her father into an abusive alcoholic. Precise explanations of cultural differences—“doing everything quietly, so as not to disturb others, is considered good manners”—are enlightening and engaging. Most effective, however, is the author’s ability to speak both affectionately and critically—though never negatively—about her native country. A somewhat inspiring memoir and a thank-you note to the author’s adopted homeland.
“Opportunity, when it comes, is something truly wonderful. “To America – With Profound Gratitude: My Journey to Freedom and Independence” is a memoir of the American dream. Reiko McKendry tells her story of leaving Japan and coming to America in 1972 with her Air Force husband, and finding a completely different world and culture that she had to adapt to, in addition to meeting the challenges of being a new mother. An uplifting tale of success in America, ‘To America – With Profound Gratitude’ is a fine and highly recommended pick for those seeking a charming memoir.”
“Reiko’s autobiography is written with such pathos that I could actually feel her emotions. She pursued her dream of coming to America with unrelenting determination and consequently became a proud and loyal American. It is an outstanding book.”
Pat Hansen, a friend
“Reiko McKendry was a colleague at Chrysler at a difficult time when we struggled to compete with, yet learn from, the Japanese automakers. From a relatively low level in the Chrysler hierarchy, she taught us how the Japanese management techniques differed from ours. She is widely credited for her contributions to the spectacular successes of the Chrysler organization in the 1990’s. Her story, from an upbringing in war-torn Japan, to a potentially hostile environment in Detroit, has something of interest to all readers.”
Steve Miller, Former Vice Chairman, Chrysler Corporation
“This is a remarkable and inspiring testimony of a young Japanese girl who had to face adversity in the home. It exemplifies the human spirit it took to rise above that adversity and build a commendable, normal life with her American family and business colleagues. She learned to take advantage of the principles of American democracy, freedom, and free enterprise. This takes great courage and determination – to learn a foreign language, monetary system, and the facets of a completely different culture. These are tenets that made America the greatest nation on earth. THIS BOOK IS WORTH READING.”
Paul Titus, Retired Business Owner