Michelle  Kuo

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Michelle Kuo

Goodreads Author


Born
Kalamazoo, Michigan, The United States
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Member Since
September 2007


Michelle Kuo is the author of the memoir READING WITH PATRICK, a story of race, inequality, and the transformative power of literature. She taught English at an alternative school in the rural town of Helena, Arkansas, located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta.

After graduating from Harvard Law, she became an immigrants’ rights lawyer at Centro Legal de la Raza, a nonprofit in Oakland, California. She advocated for tenants facing evictions, workers stiffed out of their wages, and families facing deportation.

Michelle has also clerked for the Honorable John T. Noonan at the Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit and taught courses through the Prison University Project at San Quentin Prison.

The daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, Michelle g
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Michelle Kuo Dear Teresa,

I am very touched that you read the book and found it meaningful. Thank you. And it is so sweet that you have both the hardcover and…more
Dear Teresa,

I am very touched that you read the book and found it meaningful. Thank you. And it is so sweet that you have both the hardcover and audiobook. (Sorry if I mumble on the audiobook.)

Having parents with set expectations—to obey, to succeed in narrowly defined terms—is not easy. I have found in my life that when I am professionally fulfilled, I do begin to radiate a kind of joy that makes it hard for my parents to contradict my choices. They do soften. But the more difficult thing is that I rarely felt I had room to feel anxious, uncertain, or lost in front of them. When I was broke doing legal aid, they felt so much fear, and of course it makes sense that they would. Over time I’ve come to understand they express love through fear, worry, and guilt. Trust your instincts while also trusting that their expectations come from a place of love. That's the hardest balance.

You can also check out what I wrote in this interview with TaiwaneseAmerican.org; there's a question about advice for young people. http://www.taiwaneseamerican.org/2017...

As for "life changing," I think that's the mysterious question of the book: how much does interior change -- the work of reading and writing, the self-respect and self-knowledge that they can create -- matter? It was important that I not put a happy ending on the book, because there is so much more work for us all to do, especially with integrating felons into society. Patrick still struggles to find a place in the world. But he’s still young, only 27, and I have a lot of hope for him. Some things we do know for certain: he values his daughter’s education, and encourages her to read, and she’s doing well in the fourth grade. He is happy that part of the book royalties have gone to her college fund. And last, his experience of being incarcerated was one where growth occurred.

As for my own changes, I think every day about the power of reading together. I teach differently now, trying to think of each student as a person with needs and desires and a life outside the classroom. I am a passionate believer in education in prisons, and went on to teach in prison in California because I saw how learning changed Patrick’s experience of incarceration. And I view the category of "violent offenders" without the kind of fear that term sometimes provokes. I know they each used to be a student.

Hope this helps, and I wish I could be a junior in college again. I’m very excited for all the things that you will do. Feel free to find my author page on Facebook (if you’re on there) and message me.

warmly,
Michelle(less)
Michelle Kuo Dear Charles,

Thank you for taking the time to read the book, and for your kind response to it.

Good question. I wish I had a good answer! A part of…more
Dear Charles,

Thank you for taking the time to read the book, and for your kind response to it.

Good question. I wish I had a good answer! A part of wants to write in a different genre totally, but then I wonder if I would just be trying to flee nonfiction -- writing this book really got me down, for reasons you can imagine. I was always worried that my idea of a person was wrong, and aware that I needed to get real live people right, and then bummed out if they were going through something real now while I was going about trying to capture them three or five years ago. If that makes sense.

But another part of me knows I still haven't worked out a lot of my thoughts that are related to the book. How do we create a national conversation to humanize "violent offenders", who make up half the prison population? What would be a "perfect" curriculum look like for people teaching in jail? What are the most effective programs that bring felons into society and help them feel useful and valued? I'm not sure how I can contribute to these questions, and I don't know if my answers will come in the form of a book, because that book maybe would be more dry. But I'd like to know the answers to them! If you think of a good project for me, let me know =)

All my best,
Michelle (less)
Average rating: 4.17 · 3,121 ratings · 695 reviews · 3 distinct works
Reading with Patrick: A Tea...

4.17 avg rating — 3,121 ratings — published 2017 — 14 editions
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Otto Piene: Lichtballett

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The New Decor

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Michelle Kuo is now friends with Linnaea
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"It has been a nontrivial amount of time since I blogged in any way about anything, let alone about my ongoing project on comics and the graphic novel. I won’t write extensively here, but I have made a few breakthroughs—after a frankly rough 2016—a..." Read more of this blog post »
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More of Michelle's books…
“To be educated meant you read books and entertained ideas that made you feel uncomfortable. It meant looking in the mirror and asking, What have I done that has cost me anything? What authority have I earned to speak? What work have I put in? It meant collapsing your certainties and tearing down your self-fortifications. You should feel unprotected, unarmed, open to attack.”
Michelle Kuo, Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, a Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship

“I wonder what it was all for and consider the idea that once you stop thinking about something, it disappears.”
Michelle Kuo, Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, a Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship

“Misfortune can present people with moral tests they simply cannot pass, writes philosopher Nir Eisikovits.”
Michelle Kuo, Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, a Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship

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