As I mentioned in an earlier comment, this is the first memoir I've read by someone my own age. I'm not sure I was going on the intended journey somet...moreAs I mentioned in an earlier comment, this is the first memoir I've read by someone my own age. I'm not sure I was going on the intended journey sometimes because I ended up reliving some of my own childhood through the pop culture mentioned: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Jordan and Barkley and Shaq! Super Nintendo and WWF! I knew the author of this book was close to my age well before it was officially confirmed in the book that he was born one year after me.
So that was my first mind-blowing experience. I love to read all kinds of books . . . the last memoir I read was "The Measure of a Man" by Sidney Poitier, and all the other memoirs I've read are about people older than I am. In "Fresh Off the Boat" I know I was supposed to be thinking about how different my life was from this boy who grew up with immigrant parents, but instead I was relating. Sorry about that.
But then again, I am a white lesbian from Indiana. So I don't know what it's like to come from FOB parents, I went to a 99 per cent white school, and I didn't realize hip hop was downward assimilation and alt. rock was upward. (OK, maybe Modest Mouse, but some of the stuff I listen to makes me think they are two sides of the same coin.) I am not like a lot of the racist backwards ****** in my state, and going to a small hick school and hiding in a corner so no one would find out I was gay did give me that experience of being one of the Outsiders, even if it was for different reasons than the author lived.
I could not put this book down. I was immediately captivated on the first page. I am not a foodie, but before my dad died he won some local and state competitions. (He did many things in his life, and his final career was as a chainsaw woodcarver.) I'm the only one in my family who didn't learn how to cook from him: I guess I thought I would be a rebel. I am a writer, and a reader, and the mark of another good writer is someone who can tell a good story that captivates you from beginning to end, even if the subject matter is something you don't usually read about. This book fits in that category.
The only part I had trouble relating to is when the author still had rebellion problems after his parents revealed they had money and bought a fancy house. My parents never had much money, so it's really hard for me to fight the mindset that if you do have money, your problems are solved. In my late teenage years and early 20s I partied, but we sat on our roofs, walked around town, or rode around in Cavaliers . . . we weren't on any boats or in Mercedes! But still, growing up in this country when you are "different", with or without money, is a struggle that some can't make it out of with the same perspective, sense of humor, intelligence, and drive as Eddie Huang apparently did.
Eddie really went on a journey to find himself, both mentally, physically, and internationally. You can't help but root for him in this book, and if you're what he calls a rotten banana who resists the conditioning of your race, family, or whatever group in your life that is trying to make you into something you're not, you'll cheer for Eddie, too. He's become the kind of restaurant owner and boss that will be a success; I've worked in several restaurants myself, and it really made me happy that he said he realized the people who work for him are mostly aspiring artists who will eventually move on.
I am starting to make it in my writing life and today I accept myself for who I am, even though I deal with ignorance every day. Not just because of being gay, but because I can't stand the racist hilljacks I live around. I have black people in my family, and I write books and short stories that include all kinds of diverse characters and in my world that is just how things are, and I really believe that especially with this last election (and Eddie I saw Obama's first speech way back in 04 and knew he was special back then) our country is moving forward. Someday memoirs like Eddie Huang's will show people just how ridiculous the ongoing racism and unaccaptance used to be, but we keep rising above it every day.
Food is an ongoing theme in this book; Eddie is talented at many things, and I don't believe he's finished with his life experiments yet, but you can tell that he has a special fondness and ability with food. I couldn't understand the passion until he compared a food dish he tried for the first time to listening to Lauryn Hill sing "Killing Me Softly."
I really enjoyed this, and thought the teen angst was perfectly believable. Milton reminds me of a friend I used to have in high school who unfortunat...moreI really enjoyed this, and thought the teen angst was perfectly believable. Milton reminds me of a friend I used to have in high school who unfortunately took his own life in recent years. I also like the sequel,Milton's Ultimate Hero, but can't seem to find it listed here yet!(less)