Memoir Monday Non-fiction Recommendations

Fresh Off the Boat by Edward Haung

Review:

Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir - Eddie HuangI absolutely loved this audiobook. I’m sure the ebook would have been just as great except that Haung narrates it himself and his delivery is great. I felt like we were just sitting down and talking for most of it. Not everyone can pull off the casual way that he relates his story. It’s really not a surprise they wanted to turn this into a TV series.

The book is mostly funny, but not in the way I thought it would be. Haung is much more socially aware than I had anticipated. He’s way past me on this and started at a much earlier age. Hearing about his perspective was great in so many ways. His was such a different experience than mine. It’s in the being so not-white but still being so American that he gets me. I’m half, which really means not-white except that side of my family still did all the “white” things. We ate mac and cheese and tuna sandwiches but at the same time, I had the other more ethnic half of me that ate food that looked strange to my classmates. It was interesting to feel the contrasts in upbringing.

I loved the way he talked about food and all the food revelations along the way. I loved the way we see our parents changes over time and the way children grow to appreciate kids. I loved his mom, even though she is mentioned far less than I would have guessed from seeing episodes of the show. It seems they take quite a bit of artistic license to get the show character to meet up to the expectations from her descriptions here. I also had no idea how far beyond the show the book was going to go. Somehow I had put it in my mind that the book would revolve around Haung’s childhood because the show does, rather than that it’s a full memoir to adulthood and the show has plenty of space to grow in. Of course, I’m sure the show has taken on a life of its own and do wonder a bit whether or not it will stick to Haung’s life story or veer into what might be seen as more natural for the character of him they’ve created.

Still, so much of the book was entertaining and enlightening at the same time. The social awareness is a lot of what got me the most as the book progressed. I had recently read a book or two that included some of the struggles of Asian-Americans in the US and had even heard of Chinese school from The Woman Warrior Maxine Hong Kingston but this was different. Haung actively struggles with and against the “model minority” images of Asian-Americans in the book and that’s what stands out the most for me.

I borrowed this audiobook from the library, but it’s also available from other outlets. Click on the cover image to be redirected to Booklikes for options or add to Goodreads for later.

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