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Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, & Advice for Living Your Best Life

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Goodreads Choice Award
Winner for Best Humor (2019)
Ali Wong's heartfelt and hilarious letters to her daughters (the two she put to work while they were still in utero), covering everything they need to know in life, like the unpleasant details of dating, how to be a working mom in a male-dominated profession, and how she trapped their dad.

In her hit Netflix comedy special Baby Cobra, an eight-month pregnant Ali Wong resonated so heavily that she became a popular Halloween costume. Wong told the world her remarkably unfiltered thoughts on marriage, sex, Asian culture, working women, and why you never see new mom comics on stage but you sure see plenty of new dads.

The sharp insights and humor are even more personal in this completely original collection. She shares the wisdom she's learned from a life in comedy and reveals stories from her life off stage, including the brutal singles life in New York (i.e. the inevitable confrontation with erectile dysfunction), reconnecting with her roots (and drinking snake blood) in Vietnam, tales of being a wild child growing up in San Francisco, and parenting war stories. Though addressed to her daughters, Ali Wong's letters are absurdly funny, surprisingly moving, and enlightening (and disgusting) for all.

240 pages, Hardcover

First published October 15, 2019

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About the author

Ali Wong

5 books12.5k followers
Ali Wong is the writer and star of the two hit stand up specials: "Baby Cobra" and "Hard Knock Wife." Since 2016, her looks from the specials have become a popular Halloween costume. She has sold out a record-setting number of shows on her Milk and Money Tour. She also co-wrote, starred in and produced the romantic comedy Always Be My Maybe, and is the author of the NYT bestseller Dear Girls. She currently voices the role of “Bertie” on Tuca and Bertie, which has moved from Netflix to Adult Swim for season 2. It was also recently announced that she would be starring in and producing the dramedy BEEF with Steven Yeun, Lee Sung Jin and A24.

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5 stars
21,801 (26%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,110 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,921 reviews290k followers
October 24, 2019
I've felt an increasing amount of jealousy and resentment from certain white male comics... I hear that line a lot: 'Me, I'm just another white guy.' Here's a solution: Try being a funnier white guy.

I had such a fun time reading this book!

Dear Girls was given to me as a gift and, at first, I wasn't sure how much it was really my thing, or even if I was going to read it. I like Ali Wong's stand-up just fine, but I don't read many books by comedians (just Born a Crime, which you definitely should read). Also, I say I like Ali Wong because I love how she tells really relatable stories and doesn't sugarcoat them with nice words, but I'm also not a huge fan of crude humour. Look, I grew up in Yorkshire where everyone has a crude sense of humour. In the beautiful land of God’s Own County, you might hear a passing child yell something about “p***y” (I’m only sorta joking). I'm immune to it at this point.

But, you know, this book was really entertaining and surprisingly sweet and heartwarming (in a hilarious way). Wong writes the book as a series of letters to her young daughters-- about life, love, sex, dating, careers, motherhood, and being East Asian. It's a good one of those funny-serious books in that she's talking about important things but is determined to never lose her sense of humour or trim her hairy bush. As we say in Yorkshire, "good lass".

What Ali Wong does is normalize all the gross and embarrassing stuff that many people do but won't talk about: fart during yoga, grow a huge forest in the pubic region, date multiple guys who lose their erections... it's quite refreshing.

Sometimes it seems like Ali Wong is fearless because her comedy is so without inhibition, but she also confesses to her own worries and fears and failures in this book. She leaves her daughters with a powerful message (though they are going to cringe so hard when they finally read this, lol) that it's okay to fail, to mess up, to sleep with the wrong person, to pick yourself up again and laugh about it. How wonderful that these girls have a mother behind them who is simultaneously so strong AND willing to be vulnerable.

Oh, and the food. All the talk of delicious food in this book made me so hungry 🤤

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Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews109k followers
July 7, 2020
3.5 stars. I enjoyed listening to Ali Wong narrate her audiobook - it made me want to rewatch her standup again. She’s a rad person and I’m glad there’s more visibility for raunchy Asian women with a potty sense of humor. I appreciated her points about motherhood, culture, and going outside of your comfort zone in order to grow as a person. If she had explored these themes in a deeper way, I would have rated the book higher.
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,588 reviews153k followers
May 8, 2021
4.5 stars
description
Right off the bat - a quick PSA to Mari and Nikki (the "girls" that Ali refers to in the story) - your mother was right.

Do not (ABSOLUTELY DO NOT) read this book before you're 21. In fact, deeply consider reading it at all.

There are things that are objectively hilarious (abso-freaking-lutely hilarious) but horrifying (stunningly so) when you learn it's your own mother in the center of the story.

*ahem* onto the review!
That day, my co-workers found out my secret: I'm a fucking idiot.
Ali Wong - known for her unfiltered comedy, her hit Netflix comedy special Baby Cobra, and wild life stories - has made a leap into the literary scene.

Her book, written is a series of letters to her children, provides honest advice on men and marriage.

She challenges working women stereotypes, embraces her Asian culture and doesn't back down from a frank sex talk.

We learn how Ali began her career in San Francisco Bay comedy scene before moving to New York. However, that was no picnic.

She ran herself ragged sprinting from comedy show to comedy show, auditioning for TV and eventually breaking out in the standup scene.

She eventually meets her husband and knew it was true love from their very first yoga session together.
It's always challenging not to fart during yoga, but that day, I clenched my cheeks extra tight...
And, (of course) she writes down any and all advice she has for her two children.
That became my mantra for motherhood from there on out.
You have suffered enough.
All in all, this was a really, really good book!

A word of warning though - when I say she's unfiltered - I mean it

. Don't go into this book expecting to make it through a chapter without talking either about sex, poop or afterbirth.

I hadn't known too much about Ali, other than internet clips from her Baby Cobra special, when I went into this book.

And now? I'm a fan.


Her frank advice on life:
If you can make it easier, make it easier, and don't feel guilty about it
really resonated with me.

I loved how she embraces motherhood in a crude, crass way. I haven't had children, but even I know it's not all mommy-blogs and matching onesies.

It's refreshing to have someone unapologetically laying it all on the line.

If you're a fan of her comedy - or take-no-shit-hold-no-prisoners women - this book is for you!!

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Snapchat @miranda.reads
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
October 22, 2019
”I often think about what it would be like for my grandfather to see me now. What would he think about me saying all of the disgusting things I say onstage? How he would feel about his granddaughter talking about what she lusts after? How I obsess over the most trivial problems. How I make a living by talking about what I want. How people pay to see his granddaughter just talk. He’d probably think I was some sort of magician with ancient powers, derived from behaving very well in a past life. Or a witch, I guess. At the very least, he’d definitely have the opposite opinion of all those jealous-ass white male comedians who say things like ‘People only like your comedy because you’re female and a minority.’ My grandpa would be like ‘I can’t believe people like your comedy! You’re a female and a minority.’”

I have heard of Ali Wong and have seen her referenced a few times, but have never seen any of her standup. So needless to say, I was leary about reading a memoir about her. This book was recommended to me by someone I trust or I would have never picked it up on my own. I usually like memoirs or biographies by people in the twilight years of their lives or, better yet, dead. I think that comes from being a completist. I want the whole story, not just the first third of someone’s life.

So here I am writing a review of a memoir by a woman in her 30s. How extraordinary! What is more amazing is that I gave the book five stars. How is this possible?

It is simply impossible not to.

Anyone who knows me well has heard my diatribe about movies billed as comedies. It’s not that I don’t like to laugh. I find life a series of comedic events, but I like comedy that occurs naturally, and comedic movies always come across as forced comedy, which ultimately starts to feel flat and fake. I’m soon wishing I’d put in something like In Bruges, where a serious plot is frequently enlivened by comedic elements.

So what I’m saying is that I’m a terrible risk for a book like this.

Ali Wong chooses to write her book as a series of letters to her children. The title reflects that, but my first reaction is...I’m a guy, so she isn’t really interested in men reading this book. Won’t I feel like I’m peeping in on revealing secrets not intended for me? Of course, the whole idea of Ali Wong having a secret she hasn’t revealed to the world is rather hilarious. Though I do wonder what secret could possibly be so horrendously embarrassing that Wong would not use it for her stand-up comedy routine?

So the title does throw me, but I quickly shake it off as I become caught up in her narrative. It isn’t long before I am thinking...don’t tell your daughters that! My lifetime of brainwashed conditioning showing itself, sporting a wagging finger and disapproving look. By the end of the book, I feel like Wong has taken a scrub brush of whitewash to those elements of my mind. Full disclosure: I did watch her ass wiggle as she scrubbed. I would apologize, but then she’d have to bring her scrub brush back to have another go.

Reading this book is going to make you uncomfortable. It may even offend you, but keep reading because not only is it good to occasionally be uncomfortable, sometimes you also learn to reserve being offended for those things that most deserve it.

I was about half way through the book when I decided to watch her Netflix special Baby Cobra. I wanted to put together the Ali Wong being revealed to me in the book with the stand up comedian and found that the honest evaluation of her lusts, wants, and defects were syncopatico. If there is pretense, it is well hidden.

This woman is refreshingly uninhibited. To some that might be code for rude, but it is hard to consider this level of truth to be rude.

While watching the special, I loved it when the camera would pan to the audience. Those sideways looks that couples were giving each other, the hand to the face as someone laughed at something they found to be embarrassingly true, and as her husband describes it, “laugh-so-hard-you-pee-reactions.” As compelling as it is to watch Ali’s physical reactions, it was equally fascinating to watch the crowd. If I ever attend one of her events, I’d be tempted to spend the entire skit turned around, observing the crowd. I sort of sprung Baby Cobra on my wife, no warning, no gentle explanations to prepare her for what she was about to see. She is frequently a test subject to gauge normal reactions to abnormal conditions. If I was laughing, I looked over at her so that I would laugh even harder. She was one of those audience members with her hand over her face as she chuckled. She laughed so hard at one time she had trouble breathing. I didn’t ask her if she had a pee reaction. My wife never sweats, but insists she only glistens, so her admitting to any “vulgar” body reactions would be most unusual.

The book is hilarious, but it is more than that. She talks a lot about the amount of hard work and dedication it takes to make it as a comedian. She often performed several sets at comedy clubs after working all day. She discusses the added hazard of being a female having to perform in...dives. Can you imagine that walk from the club to her car in the early hours of the morning? She believes that safety is one of the contributing factors as to why there are not more female comedians.

She talks about her heritage and her relationship with her extended family. Every immigrant family has an interesting story, and her parents are no exception. She is half Vietnamese and half Chinese, and those two cultures may seem similar in the eyes of many, but they actually have vast differences in philosophical approaches to life. Her husband is also half and half, and she describes their relationship as having the “exact same amount of Asian.” They were both raised as Americans, but their Asian roots heavily influence who they are.

Her husband writes an afterward, also addressed to their children, and he is pretty honest about his own personal journey dealing with being frequently the subject of his wife’s comedy. If she were making it all up or exaggerating the circumstances, that would certainly be less of a problem, but the issue, of course, is that she is sending arrows right into the bullseye. I love what he says about her. ”Asian cultures often teach us to be silent about our sexuality and filled with shame. Your mother breaks that up and transmutes pain and shame into power, like a mystical priestess.”

So as unlikely as I am to be an Ali Wong fan, I have to say it has happened. Yes, this book is hilarious, but it also touches on serious issues and, for this reader, even proves to be an inspiration. Keep chasing your dreams, work harder, and don’t give up. Few of us want to be as famous as Ali Wong, but most of us wish we could be more successful at something we love to do. Patience grasshopper. Wax on. Wax off.

I want to thank Mimi Chan of Goodreads and Random House for supplying me with an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,069 reviews38.2k followers
December 16, 2020
Wow! This is brave! This hilarious! I haven’t laughed so much since I’ve seen my husband wear tights and thinks he’s hottie in his Robin Hood costume for Halloween. (Of course the entire people who were passing through Hollywood Boulevard agreed with me with their howling laughs. Case closed!)

I’m a big fan of this evil genius and needs her own thrown at Comedy Kingdom. She is smart. She is relentless. She is ugly honest. She is so confident. She is shining when she takes her place at the stage. ( Yes, I was lucky enough to see her live performances and screamed too much, nearly be thrown out the comedy club for making so much noise!)

This book consists of her letters to her daughters. She’s talking about so many heavy and rigid stuff like making fun with her own body (just like I do every day but I don’t laugh after I humiliate myself! I mostly cry, scream and yell! As a precaution my husband covered the mirrors with blankets. Our house started to look like movie set of Nicole Kidman’s Others movie), her husband ( OMG! Ali should be my best friend forever!), taking risks of life, challenges of being an immigrant, love, sex, dating, career choices, pregnancy etc.

And of course there are some disgustingly funny stuff only dark humor lovers like me could get and truly like such as farthing at yoga séance, bushy pubic hair jokes. ( Don’t worry! If you survived from any other Amy Schumer comedy specials, these jokes will be so much softer for your own taste! Oh and I adore dirty Schumer, too!)

Being comedian, mocking yourself and loved ones, finding most creative and smartest jokes and being woman when you’re achieving that are the biggest challenges in the industry. Thankfully we have Ali Wong, Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, Ellen DeGeneres, Leslie Jones, Hannah Gadsby, Chelsea Peretti, Wanda Skyes, Jen Kirkman ( also created one of our favorite stand up star: Marvelous Mrs. Maisel).

There are so many successful, brave, smart, talented females out there doing great job. I just wrote the first names came into my mind) With those women’s talented brains, witty minds, creative, challenging, independent thoughts the world turns into a better place with more laughs, more fun and more vision!

So I had amazing time by reading this book. I wish there would be more pages. I laughed so much and probably scared more neighborhood kids, dogs and squirrels.

I highly recommend Ali Wong’s “Hard Knock Wife” and “Baby Cobra” comedy specials. If you enjoy this book as much as I did, you won’t want to miss them and get ready to have so so so much fun!
Profile Image for Chelsea *Slowly Catching Up* Humphrey.
1,390 reviews77.2k followers
December 10, 2019
CONGRATULATIONS-Goodreads Choice Awards Humor Winner!

This was such a reprieve from what turned out to be a heavy month. I can't remember the last time I've laughed so hard, and my only gripe is that I wish there was more! Seriously, I could listen to Ali Wong and her personal brand of female humor all day every day. This was excellent as an audio book read by Wong! Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,128 reviews34.9k followers
October 13, 2019
4.5 Stars

Dear Girls is a book made up of Ali Wong writing letters (chapters) to her young daughters. The letters are hilarious, cautionary candid tales telling of Ali's life experiences from childhood through adulthood and cumulating into her becoming a mother. She is frank, candid, vulgar and hilariously real about all aspects of her life. She is not afraid to take risks and encourages her daughters to do so but to also learn from the mistakes their mother has made.

Her book reads like her stand-up comedy specials (heck she mentions them enough in the book). She is fearless and really puts herself out there and pokes fun at her body, dating, her husband, having immigrants as parents, sex, food, pregnancy, and how taking risks paid off and made her a better person and stand-up comic.

You do not need to be a fan of Ali Wong to read this book. I really didn’t know much about her prior to reading this one. I saw a couple of clips on YouTube of her performing while pregnant. If you were not a fan before this book, you will be after reading it. Unless you are turned off by talk of gapping buttholes and her multiple descriptions of her big bush. Seriously, someone needs to introduce this woman to laser hair removal or as least take her to get waxed. Just thinking out loud there.

This book is fabulous although it seemed to stop on a dime. It just ended and then there was the afterword written by her husband to their two daughters.

Overall, a hilariously funny, frank, raunchy, heartfelt and entertaining read.

Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, it cracked me up and made me smile! All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Jananie (thisstoryaintover).
290 reviews12.9k followers
Read
May 12, 2021
AHH that was so good!! Could not stop pee-in-my-pants laughing during this one! Loved how she held nothing back and really examines her relationship with her sexuality, motherhood, and being Asian American. Highly recommend the audiobook if you're planning to pick this up because Ali Wong narrates it herself. Also that afterword from her husband? the cutest thing 😭
Profile Image for Babbity Kate.
161 reviews49 followers
October 7, 2019
If you want to enjoy this book, don't read the last chapter.

"First, do not read this book until you are over twenty-one. You should not be allowed to know these inappropriate things about me if you can’t even buy beer yet."




Dear Girls is about the messy parts of life, but ends up being a bit of a mess itself. Despite the rough bits, though, it's an enjoyable read. Once you get past the shaky opening chapters, stand-up and TV writer Ali Wong is as frank, hilarious, and graphic as you'd expect. My full review goes into more detail about what did and didn't work for me.

But if you're enjoying this book, quit while you're ahead, because the last chapter pops the illusion of candor and relatability like a day-old balloon.

The final letter is actually from Wong’s husband, and it is so close to self-awareness. The chapter could have been thoughtful and confessional, but it doesn’t quite get there, and ends up a little irritating. The real disappointment, though, comes in the third-to-last paragraph of the book, when Justin Hakuta (Wong’s husband) drops this line:

"Who were we to take care of you and nurture such magical beings? But then instinct kicked in, along with relatives and Sofiya, your magical Ukrainian nanny, and we were off and running on our new adventure."


There’s… a lot to unpack there, and I try to explain on my blog why this soured my experience of the book. It's not that I'm surprised that the family has a nanny, it's that it didn't occur to me that she was missing until the very end.

For all her detailed descriptions of post-birth infection and breastfeeding pains, Wong never once mentions who is taking care of her children during the day. She spends an entire chapter talking about the experience of being a stay-at-home full-time parent while on maternity leave, and how taxing it was. She spends paragraphs praising her husband for being so involved even though he still works. Never once, in her “unflinchingly honest” set of letters to her daughters, does Wong mention a woman instrumental in their upbringing.

Celebrity memoirs require almost as much suspension of disbelief as novels. To enjoy them, you have to ignore the enormous impact of wealth and resources on the life of the person whose problems you're reading about. You have to look past everything that makes their life different to appreciate the moments when they're Just Like You. Even the most honest of memoirs are a magic trick.

Ali Wong almost pulls it off... but if she wanted to seem relatable, she should have either been honest about the help she gets, or not mentioned it at all.

Thank you to Random House for providing an advance review copy of this title. No money changed hands for this review and all opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,850 reviews34.9k followers
September 25, 2019
Ali Wong makes me laugh....
...she is not only hilariously funny...but underneath her raunchy humor, she’s a down-to-earth sweetie-pie luv-bug!

“Dear Girls” is her memoir - -non-fiction book for her fans - ( I’m one of them), and anyone curious about her.
It’s written as a letter to her two young little girls....
with instructions: NOT TO
BE READ UNTIL AGE 21!

I loved this book... I loved reading about Ali.....
*everything Ali*!!!

We learn about Ali’s upbringing- and her personal life.... with love for her ‘handsome Asian husband’, and her two daughters...
the heart-of-what-matters-most!

A few excerpts below:

“One of the worst places I performed regularly at was
‘Our Little Theater’. It literally seated eight people and was located in the heart of the Tenderloin district. That neighborhood was home to Southeast Asian refugees, a million drug addicts, and a truly remarkable amount of human feces on the street. There was no time to think about my set when walking to ‘Our Little Theater’ because I was too busy trying not to get robbed and jumping over doo-doo and syringes on the sidewalk. That’s a game of hopscotch you ‘need’ to win. Because if you lose, your consolation prize is ebola”.

WORDS of WISDOM from
Ali to her daughters:
“At some point you gotta go. Mama loves you but it’s so important to get out of your hometown and get the fuck away from your family. As the youngest of four kids, I was always being observed by my siblings, who would judge my every decision.
They had a set idea of who I was and it affected me. It was limiting. Everything I said generally had no credence because I was at least ten years younger than every single person in my family, so what did I know? When I got away from them, I finally felt like I could be the person I was meant to be, which just happened to be a person who talked about her wish to put nail polish remover in men’s buttholes so she could accomplish two things at once. Chances are that neither of you is also that person”.

“My family had always told me how to speak and how to feel about things. Part of what was so liberating about being on stage was that I could say whatever I wanted without having loved ones comment on it. Regardless of how the strangers would respond, at least they were strangers who didn’t know me or have any real authority over who I was. I loved the anonymity of my conversations with an audience”.

Deciding to move to NYC after four years of doing stand up in San Francisco was hard for Ali. She was 26 at the time, and there were girls just out of college ordering her around who had nicer bags and shoes and she did”.
“Every day in NYC was about spending as little money as possible. I didn’t see any movies or eat out unless they went out on a date, or it was pizza or falafel. Ninety percent of the time I cooked at the SoHo loft. I’d buy lentils from a bulk bin at the East Village co-op and boil them to eat with salt, like a medieval peasant. And then I’d steam some vegetables from Chinatown. For three dollars and fifty cents, I found a place that sold half of a cooked chicken that was probably loaded with enough antibiotics to turn my blood into Purell”.

“Pretty much the worst thing about being a woman in stand-up is that you are always forced to socialize with male stand-up comics’ girlfriends”.

Comedy requires taking risks, and Ali takes them.
She’s had nights of people yelling ‘boo’.
She learned from those devastating nights. She’s a comic that seriously works hard at her craft. She learned early to diversify her crowds. She said yes to every opportunity to do a set in other cities, even if it meant losing money.

Ali gives advice to her daughters about stand-up...[don’t do it]...
about men, dating, [men should pay on a first date], sex, pregnancy, family, [things she learned from her Vietnamese immigrant mother, siblings, etc.], shoes, [wear flats],
about making mistakes [make them], and about the many choices they will make in their lifetime.
Ali also shared with her daughters [ and us], shameful things she did in her youth.
....smoked her first cigarette at age 11.
....shoplifted lipstick
....”One New Years Eve when I was seventeen, I made out with thirteen boys and three girls. That’s basically an entire high school production of ‘Oliver’”.
...etc. [she promised her daughters that things get way better after their teen years].

How anyone can’t see Ali Wong’s greatness - her warm-hearted honest goodness - her gift to the world as an unguarded human being - is beyond me.
Yep... I love Ali’s stand-up...
And reading this book was a deeply pleasurable!!

The last chapter, the Afterword, is written by Ali’s husband, Justin Hakuta
He writes a letter to his girls...
“Dear Mari and Nikki”.....
Justin is mensch of a husband and father!!

Looking forward to listening to the Audiobook! I can already imagine how enjoyable it will be to hear Ali read it!!

Thank you Random House, Netgalley, and Ali Wong
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,831 reviews5,507 followers
November 4, 2019
Let me tell you, it is such a relief to have a funny, well-written book from a comedian that I admire. Man, I've been burned so many times before with mediocre books from comedians, I barely dared to hope with this one. But Ali Wong really delivered.

If you are a fan of Ali Wong, you will like this book. I pinky-swear promise. The beginning of the book is pure Ali Wong humor, and if you think think that means vagina and pubic hair jokes, you would be 100% CORRECT.

Ali Wong is purely who she is, and I love that about her. I think people underestimate her (though not so much anymore, thank you "Always Be My Maybe"!), but she is one of the most honest, crassly-amazing comedians out there. I love that she is a parent now, and I related to her stories a ton, even though our upbringing was completely different. I ate up the stories about how she met her husband and how he compared to the (multitude) of men she had dated in the past. She gave me the intimate content I was craving, and, no, I don't mean of her sex life (get your mind out of the gutter!).

The second half of the book was a bit less funny and more of an exploration of her ethnic background, which I also enjoyed. Ali Wong showed me a lot about who she is and where she is going, both in her own journey to learn about herself and with her comedy. Sometimes, I think it's too early for a comedian to write a book, but with Ali Wong, it was just right. Both funny and poignant, Ali Wong really nailed it with Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, and Advice for Living Your Best Life.

*Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*

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Profile Image for Faye*.
315 reviews94 followers
October 20, 2019
Dear Ali Wong, it's not you, it's me. I saw an interview with you and thought you were funny. It turns out that your humour is not my humour.

I'm really not picky when it comes to celebrity memoirs but this one was not for me.
Profile Image for Mimi.
97 reviews3,511 followers
September 24, 2019
I truly feared this book would be fluff. Instead it is fearless and real.

Ali Wong says how we all feel: I'm not fine. Yet in her resilience and grit she is able to turn childhood resentment, male rejection, discrimination, getting boo'd offstage, the fear of a prenup, and a bushy pussy into the best things that could have happened to her.

I laughed out loud as I imagined Ali's exaggerated comedy voice confessing life moments like this one when she was pregnant:

After a while, I couldn't see my vagina when I looked down, because all I could see was my belly. But when I stared at myself in the mirror, my vagina just looked like an ancient wise Chinese man from a fairy tale that got stuck in a cave and survived off yams. The hair was so damn long and neglected. My nipples became progressively bigger and darker. One day I noticed the tips were starting to look a little scaly and naturally rubbed them. Some bits started to flake off like tiny brown boogers. And I just sat on the bathroom floor completely naked, with a garbage can between my thighs, picking at my nipples. Daddy walked in on me while I was completely focused on this important activity and asked , "Are you harvesting your nipples?" I didn't even look at him and just responded, "Well, obviously."

So many times I said YES I totally get that. It wasn't just because we shared a common Asian experience but often because we shared a common human experience. I applaud her courage in sharing so nakedly (sometimes literally nakedly so be prepared for some frank language).

Asian women live forever and having kids is like a 401(k) for companionship YES
If a man rejects you once you've physically made a move on him, he's not going to change his mind. The dick don't lie. YES
What I have in common with stay-at-home moms: We are all just doing our best. YES
I've felt an increasing amount of jealousy and resentment from certain white male comics... I hear that line a lot: 'Me, I'm just another white guy.' Here's a solution: Try being a funnier white guy. YES
It broke my heart. I said, 'This is torture. I can't handle this anymore. ' YES
The most important part of parenting, relationships, pretty much anything - is just actually being there. YES

A friend and I worried because in the intro Ali tries to set our expectations low about her writing. But while her prose isn't exquisite in that way where you can rhapsodize over gloriously minute details, it is weighted with truth which far exceeded my expectations. 5 stars.

P.S. I have a secret hope that Ali and I are meant to be good friends, for her sister is also named Mimi and her best friend has half my name Miya. But wait would that make me superfluous? I am not too proud to be a 3rd Mimi.

*My honest review was made possible by an Advanced Reader Copy thanks to Random House.*
Profile Image for exploraDora.
519 reviews249 followers
May 28, 2020
***5 stars***

I’ve been a fan of Ali Wong ever since my brother and sister-in-law introduced me to her first Netflix special. That's why I had to read her book as soon as I found out about it and let me tell you it is amazing! It's personal, hilarious, brutally honest and also beautifully written.

I laughed out loud so many times, but by the end of it I also kind of felt enlightened. I especially loved her views and comments on motherhood (fiiiiiiinally someone who dosen't gloss over how hard it actually is) and also learning about her life, including how she got where she is, her love life and stories of her exes. Other themes such as finding one’s path, challenging the status quo and harnessing the power of one’s voice make this a worthwhile read for anyone who can take a joke about genitalia.

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who is not easily offended by real life language and situations and wants to have a good laugh. Then maybe go watch her Netflix specials and her movie, if you haven't already!
Profile Image for Kacey.
303 reviews157 followers
November 9, 2019
I really hope Ali Wong's daughters never actually read this, or they're going to be horrified.
Profile Image for Blaine.
712 reviews573 followers
April 20, 2020
If you enjoy Ali Wong’s stand up specials, you’ll probably enjoy this collection of essays. Unlike Tina Fey’s Bossypants or Mindy Kaling’s books, this book does not spend much time on Ms. Wong’s professional success; the story there is pretty much work really hard and persevere though the failures. Instead, Ms. Wong focuses much more on her personal and family history, which was both unusual and interesting. Throughout, she dispenses life advice to her daughters, advice which is easily applicable to most women if not most people. A fast, fun read. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

One word of caution: raunchy doesn’t really do justice to Ali Wong’s brand of comedy. So if you have never seen Ali Wong’s stand up specials, I would check one out before I read this book. And if you’ve seen one of her stand up specials and did not like it, then this book is not recommended. All that raunchy humor that turned you off? Yeah, it’s in here too.
Profile Image for Jeanne.
1,213 reviews
November 19, 2019
OMG TMI DNF
As a fan of Ali Wong's comedy, I was looking forward to this audiobook. I was expecting something akin to a comedy performance. I was wrong. I found this book disgusting.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,848 followers
October 7, 2019
If any of you have enjoyed Ali Wong's stand-up, I'm sure you'll also enjoy this book. Brutal honesty, expose-all humor, and some heart mixed in with all the entrapment stuff that women are into. :)

Of course, there's always a twist.

This book is set up as a series of letters to her young daughters, but its kinda a gimmick. One that works, fortunately, by giving us a familiar outlet for her comedy. Some of the sets translate the same way from Baby Cobra or Hard Knock Wife and there's new material here, too, but maybe not as much as some folks might expect. It's about as different from those two specials as the two specials are from each other.

Is it a good way to get to know her as a comic? Would it be more fun to read this before watching her specials?

I wouldn't know. I got this book on Netgalley and THEN watched the specials. By then I was already a fan so this is all bonus, baby.

Have fun!
15 reviews1 follower
July 26, 2019
(I got my hot little hands on an ARC from secret sources.) I really liked the book except for the last chapter from the author's husband, which ended up making me like the whole book less.

First, the chapter was insipidly self-congratulatory and he is boring so I do not care what he has to say. Congratulations on being okay with being rich?

Second, the rest of the book is so funny and vulgar - a lot like Ali Wong's standup - and suffused with so much love for the titular girls. There are so many extremely gross and hilarious stories about giving birth and babies and childcare...and then in the husband's chapter there's a brief throwaway mention of the girls' Ukrainian nanny who is not mentioned even once in the rest of the book and I was just like "hmm". Okay. So I get that if you are Ali Wong, discussing your nanny (who you were able to hire because, again, you're rich) disrupts the narrative that you're ~just like the rest of us~ with career insecurities and family struggles and whatever. And I understand that it's difficult to walk the line of maintaining the authentic, crassly down-to-earth voice that's made you famous but also now you're famous. Still, it really made me re-think the whole book, and the clearly strategic choice to leave out discussion of the nanny. Somewhere during the (many) paragraphs where she's lauding her husband for somehow managing to co-parent their children despite having a job, she couldn't have thrown in a little bit of gratitude for the woman whose job it is to care for their children? It left a bad taste in my mouth and I knocked off a star because of it.
Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
470 reviews767 followers
December 24, 2022
Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, and Advice for Living Your Best Life was a stocking stuffer I was happy to treat myself to. Published in 2019, Ali Wong captures the verve of her stage act in print, the hook being it's a family history and wisdom for her daughters, Mari, born in 2015, and Nikki, in 2017. There's no avoiding that this is another stand-up comedian fulfilling the terms of a book deal, but I find satisfaction in studying how a performer's childhood, love life, and writing process varies from case to case, and Wong is especially candid. Warning: There are parts raunchier than her Netflix specials. I laughed often.

-- Well, let's just get right to it: I dated a series of men who had issues getting it up. It felt like a curse. Five guys in a row lost their boners in the middle of getting busy. Part of me blamed Raynaud's disease, a condition that was passed on to me by my father. I have extremely poor circulation to my hands and feet, to the point where, in the cold, they will turn blue and feel like pain icicles. So, especially in the New York fall or wintertime, my bare hands, much like the hands of Rogue from the X-Men, could suck the life out of a man's erect penis.

-- I made it to thirty-seven weeks and they tried to induce me. I had contractions for twenty-four hours but my cervix was still only dilated half a centimeter. It hurt like hell because I was trying to push a cantaloupe out of a hole the size of an apple stem. The doctor offered to put some medical balloon up my pussy to open up the cervix more, which to me sounded like some sort of interrogation torture tactic. Clowns have always scared me and while I've slept with two homeless people, I really didn't want to get fucked by a balloon. Despite the nurse's discouragement, I decided to go straight to the C-section. It was the first lesson in having kids: You cannot control anything.

-- Stand-up is not supposed to be warm and fuzzy or welcoming. If it was, everyone would do it. Some people think that stand-ups are all dysfunctional or have mental health problems or bad families. But I think all you need to be a good stand-up is to have a unique point of view, be funny, and enjoy bombing in front of strangers. You really do have to learn to like bombing a lot. Even now, when the audience is too good, sometimes I think, I didn't deserve that. You'll know you're a stand-up when, after a spectacular bomb, you don't feel like you want to quit, but instead the opposite: You want to go up again.

-- As a female comic, it was always hard to not date a stand-up comedian. Mostly because when I dated men outside of stand-up comedy, their attempts at funny made me cringe. One guy pointed to an escalator that was out of order and said to me, "Escalators that are out of order are basically temporary stairs." I said to him, "That's a Mitch Hedberg joke." He said to me, "Oh, I just came up with that thought on my own by myself." Shut up, you fucking liar.

-- Pretty much the worst thing about being a woman in stand-up is that you are always forced to socialize with male stand-up comics' girlfriends. You become a babysitter for these poor women. At a club once, this comic dumped his life-sized Barbie doll of a girlfriend next to me, like, Hey, can you watch this? To be fair, she was perfectly nice and was showing me all this fancy stuff on her body that her boyfriend had bought her. "I mean, just look at this diamond. It's a honey diamond, which I think is a very chic alternative to a basic diamond. Honey because it's the color of honey!" she exclaimed as she searched for light to rotate her wrist in, to maximize the sparkle on her finger. "Look at my Casio digital watch," I replied as I offered my wrist to her hands. "It cost me $19.99, and it displays the time AND the date!" She didn't get the sarcasm and instead pretended to just be super impressed. "Oh my God! That's really umm ... useful and such a neat retro watch! You're like one of those kids riding a bike in E.T.!"

-- Cuisine: Vietnamese

Good Signs: Opens at seven A.M.; closes at eight P.M. The back of the menu features advertisements for local dentists, lawyers, and real estate agents. All the employees wear open-toed shoes. There's a Buddha by the cash register. There are red fake candles with incense burning. Waiters have long fingernails that may touch your food and that's okay. Cash only. The name has a number in it (yes, I know this is already in
Baby Cobra but it's important, dammit!).

Bad Signs: Customers are eating pho with a fork. The waiters are white. They take American Express. They don't serve tripe or tendon. They serve chicken breast. The name is some unfunny punny bullshit like "Pho Gettaboutit" or "What the Pho."


-- The movie High Fidelity came out when I was a junior in high school. John Cusack's character goes through five different relationships. The statistics teacher asked us how we felt about it. Everyone except me said they found it depressing. They all thought they were going to marry their high school sweethearts (so naïve!). Older people know that you have to go through multiple relationships to find the right one. You will probably go through three to five serious relationships in your life before finding your person, if you're even lucky enough. Older people found the movie relatable and uplifting because even though John Cusack's character doesn't end up getting married, he does end up with a woman where he can comfortable and himself. But I didn't have to see High Fidelity to know this was true. I had witnessed it all through my siblings.

-- Have your bachelorette party at Disneyland. After I had my miscarriage, my best friend came to L.A. I wanted to feel like my old self and be able to make light of the situation so we got extremely high. We each ate half of a chocolate cannabis heart. Later, a co-worker told me I should have eaten an eighth of the heart. Soaring over California was magical, because I was so high. And It's a Small World made me feel like the world really was small, after all (I was high as shit). Space Mountain made me feel like I was in space (I don't think I've ever been that high). But then Indiana Jones was awful. That big ball threatening to crush me and that huge snake hissing in my face felt like I was about to die in the worst way possible. Do not get high and then go on Indiana Jones. Consider this your one and only warning.

Profile Image for Bianca.
1,011 reviews870 followers
August 9, 2020
I've come to appreciate and enjoy/love stand comedy and comedy in general, and admit to it, relatively recently (last 15 years+). It's not that I didn't enjoy comedy when I was younger - I grew up watching Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, Norman Wisdom and a few others, but I never intentionally sought it. As you can tell from my list, all those comedians are men. I never got to watch Lucille Ball or any of the other female comedians.

These days, I make it a priority to watch female comedians.

I still remember stumbling upon Ali Wong's Netflix special "Baby Cobra" and feeling like I was about to die because I was laughing so hard, I couldn't breathe. I just couldn't believe her candour, her straightforwardness, her crassness - and all that coming from a tiny heavily pregnant Asian woman. I had to tell the world to go watch her special.

Needless to say, I watched her second Netflix special (still awesome) and the movie she wrote/co-produced (average). I was curious to read this memoir. It still has some of the explicit sexual description and other things that could be considered crass - at this point, it's still her MO. But it some had insights into her relationships and life prior to becoming famous.

It was a nice surprise to hear her husband, Justin Hakuta, tell a bit of his story at the end of the book. I confess I was wondering about him, thinking wow, he must be a special kind of man - first of all, he was in a relationship with a female comedian! Second, he's talked about and made fun of in every stand-up special. Third, he gave up his job/career to support Ali and to look after their daughters - is that some kind of mystical creature? He sounds like a smart, kind, woke man, who didn't let cultural background and social norms and expectations dictate his life. Anyway, I'm not one to praise men for taking the trash out or for "babysitting" their own kids (insert huge eye roll) if you know what I mean, just thought I'd mention it because I liked what I was hearing. Here's hoping their relationship survives.

I'm glad I took the time to listen to this. Ali is a dynamo.

NB: I may love comedies these days, but I think the world would be a much better place if resources weren't used to make movies created by and featuring the following people: Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, Kevin James and David Spade to name just a few.
Profile Image for Krystin | TheF**kingTwist.
449 reviews1,710 followers
January 19, 2023
Book Blog | Bookstagram

|"If you can’t handle me when I show you my gaping butthole, you don’t deserve the rest of me."

I love Ali Wong. Like a deep, spiritual love based on unabashed honesty, IDGAF attitude and vagina jokes. But you don’t need to love Ali Wong the way I do to read and enjoy this book of raw, personal and unflinching essays that gives you Wong's takes on life, love and erectile dysfunction.

Speaking from my biased standpoint, you want to know her opinions. I’m not saying she’s a genius, but at the very least, she’s one the most intelligent, open-minded, well-spoken and experienced women out there, and as a bonus, she uses words like “dodo,” “caca” and “punani.” What’s not to love? She fucking disgusting and I look up to her.

Maybe you won’t agree with all of her hot takes (I don’t always,) but you will learn and grow and laugh. Definitely laugh.



"It’s very rare and unusual to see a female comic perform pregnant, because female comics … don’t get pregnant. Just try to think of one. I dare you. There’s ― none of them. Once they do get pregnant, they generally disappear. That’s not the case with male comics. Once they have a baby, they’ll get up on stage a week afterwards and they’ll be like, ‘Guys, I just had this fucking baby. That baby’s a little piece of shit. It’s so annoying and boring.’ And all these other shitty dads in the audience are, like, ‘That’s hilarious. I identify.’ And their fame just swells because they become this relatable family funny man all of a sudden. Meanwhile, the mom is at home, chapping her nipples, feeding the fucking baby, and wearing a frozen diaper ’cause her pussy needs to heal from the baby’s head shredding it up. She’s busy.”

Dear Girls features Wong’s trademark authenticity and risk-taking style but in heartfelt, lesson-teaching, story-telling sincere letters written to her two daughters.

She speaks about growing up with immigrant parents:
"I also understood why my mom wasn’t into processing her feelings, and how she was taught to just get over tragedy. To survive, she had to believe things like depression and allergies were a choice."

Dating and sex:
"A man who’s down to eat fermented cabbage is also probably down to eat butt after a long, humid summer day. Probiotics!"



Being a comedian:
"I get so annoyed when people claim to be stand-up comedians but they’re actually comedic bloggers or vloggers. Videoing yourself putting on makeup or unboxing candles is not a job."

And becoming a mom, among other things:
"I made plans to eat my placenta to prevent postpartum depression and not waste any of that valuable, free nutrition (if you haven’t picked up on it by now, I’m extremely cheap)."

Wong relays stories from her life – meeting her husband, studying abroad, trying to make it as a comic – with the approach that honesty is the best policy, even if some topics are things most parents might rather keep from their children. Wong is clearly more interested in passing down experiences and the knowledge she has learned from those moments than in preserving or sheltering some kind of faux innocence that honestly doesn’t really exist.

For me, the main takeaways from Dear Girls were:

To find humour in your most embarrassing, traumatic or bleak moments, while you try to stay optimistic and remind yourself of your good fortune. You can be upset, but always try to move on and learn something.

To use your fuck-ups as motivation and teaching moments, not depression fuel or a reason to give up. Wong uses a story about bombing HARD in front of Eddie Murphy to make this point. And, like, can you even imagine? EDDIE MURPHY watching you in SILENCE? Cringe. .

To define yourself outside of what other people will easily define about you for you. Maybe that’s race, gender or where you come from. Wong makes some pretty big points about growing as human beings, connecting across all “party” lines in every way and giving other people a chance the same way you want a chance at the freedom to be yourself and succeed in whatever way you define success.


Considering everything sucks and we’re living in a sick, sad world right now, I think this book is the perfect thing to give you a little joy, cringe and laughter. My only complaint is that it lacked some of the magic of her stand-up. But, still, Ali Wong is a filthy QUEEN.



⭐⭐⭐⭐½ | 4.5 stars rounded up.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Bowyer.
187 reviews2 followers
November 9, 2019
Boring. I keep reading these memoirs of female comedians I love hoping for comedic stories or details about their stand ups/TV shows and am instead reading about boring stories from their day to day lives. I don't glorify celebrities and I'm guessing that is the only way you could be interested in these books. If you think they are greater than God than I guess their trip to the grocery store is interesting?
December 23, 2019
3.5 stars

In a series of letters to her two daughters (who she says cannot read the book until they're at least twenty-one), stand up comic Ali Wong provides unfiltered advice on topics like motherhood, sex, and marriage.  She shares stories from her childhood, her early days in standup, her dating life, and how she met her husband.

While it's a hilariously raunchy memoir for readers, I love that it's basically a cautionary tale for her daughters full of experiences she hopes they will learn from and full of the heartfelt wisdom and advice only a mother can give.

This book is a light and entertaining read while also providing an important look at stereotypes of women (in comedy, as working mothers, as sexual beings, etc.) and Asian culture.  She covers sensitive topics like miscarriage and pregnancy complications with humor but also refreshing honesty and touches on both the anxiety of being employed in America while pregnant and of returning to work after giving birth.

My favorite chapters were definitely those focusing directly on motherhood: "The Miracle of Life", "Why I Went Back to Work", and "Bringing Up Bebes".  So hilarious, embarrassing, and completely relatable.

This is a great autobiography if you enjoy Wong's standup specials and/or roles in television or can appreciate hilariously honest but raunchy (seriously, prepare to blush a lot or gasp if you're the type to clutch your pearls) stories.

For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com
Profile Image for CYIReadBooks (Claire).
543 reviews80 followers
May 31, 2021
Just a few words. Hilariously funny. Humorously irreverent. An absolute must read for a good dose of gut wrenching laughter.
Profile Image for Michelle.
695 reviews77 followers
May 19, 2020
Let me just give you a little taste of this book...

“...YOU can be whatever you want to be but NOT a vlogger, NEVER a vlogger. Video-ing yourself putting on make-up or unboxing candles is NOT a job...Those people don’t put their body out there.”

Really?! What about the people who struggle just to get out of bed every day? What if those videos are the absolute best that they can do? Some people hurt so much that they don’t even have the strength or energy to even film a video. How insensitive. This sounds like jealousy to me. Plus, if there wasn’t a demand for these types of videos than no one would be producing them. These “lazy” people have a ton of followers for a reason. Supply & demand. Especially in quarantine when we are looking to keep our minds busy and not have anxiety attacks. I don’t know about you, but I appreciate them.

“When I go on the road I have to get into a car with a stranger 4 times per day. From my house to the airport, from the airport to the hotel, from the hotel to the club, and from the club to the hotel. For a man, that’s considered an adventure full of potential Man- Shenanigans like in The Hangover. Best case Scenario is: They wind up high on mushrooms getting blown by a stranger with a briefcase full of mob money and a foreign passport that doesn’t belong to them. Worst Case Scenario is: Boredom, which means being on their phone which they also love. For a woman, though, it’s 4 opportunities to get raped and killed.”

Poor you , God Forbid you have someone to tote you around and you don’t have to have to drive yourself anywhere. Men can be harmed too, this notion is absurd.

“I once knew a lady who would water her plants with her period juice and talk to them hoping that they’d spring to life!”

“ ... I did such a great job on my final project that my TA slept with me.”

“ I’m not fine. I have Rosacea, Insomnia and a terrible habit of always assuming the worst when somebody unexpectedly knocks at the door. I panic and think If I open that door, the bad man is going to stab me in the eye, fill my body with sawdust and turn me into a giant flesh puppet that he can make dance and sing like one of those goats in the Sound of Music.”

“ Whenever I feel any sort of pain in my body, I assume it’s stage 4 bone cancer and have an internal debate about whether I’m willing to amputate my foot or not.”

When talking about ANY bride walking down the aisle “ I cry for her because I can tell it’s the first time she’s had that many people look at her and watch her all at once...I cry not because she looks beautiful but because she looks dramatically different and she put so much effort into looking transformed. “

“Space mountain made me feel like I was in space.”

I can’t.

I believe this might be the first 1- star that I’ve given out in years. This book was a major bust.

I’m sorry but I HAVE to ask... is it ME? I absolutely love stand-up comedians. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever strongly disliked one. I would gladly go to and/ or watch any comedy show that you throw at me and will usually be the one dying laughing while trying not to pee my pants. But THIS- was terrible!

I have to be honest that before this book I had zero clue who Ali Wong was, so maybe it could be that I’m just not familiar with her “style” of humor?

For the first hour of this book admittedly I was LOLing literally, and then from that point on I am cringing at almost every single thing that she says.

I cannot stand her view points, her personality, her words, her treatment of others —-nothing. I’m usually not this hard on an audio-book but I feel like she is just screaming ( her voice is loud as hell, so is mine—-but I wouldn’t read my own audio book ) derogatory comments at me the entire time.

Side Note: I did watch her show “Ali: Wong: Baby Cobra” after reading this book, just to see if maybe she just isn’t a great writer ( in my opinion) but really is good at stand-up. Which could be the case. It wasn’t fantastic, but wasn’t horrible like this book. I did chuckle a few times!

Throughout the duration of this book I honestly feel like she has a God Complex and her husband must be a saint. I can’t get on board with this attitude. ESPECIALLY since this book is meant as letters to be read by her daughters. I would be embarrassed to be her kids, just saying.
Profile Image for NAT.orious reads ☾.
817 reviews322 followers
January 2, 2021
⫸3.5 STARS
This book is for … fans of Ali Wong, real-talk, and bits of advice in between long stories.

Overall.
Dear Girls makes me confident that should Ali and I ever meet and be forced to spend time together we'd get along extremely well. For one, her humour is amazing. I've watched snippets of her shows online and felt an instant connection to this woman who made it in the comedy world, against many odds, race and gender being two of them. She doesn't shy away from telling things as they are and using the appropriate language to do so. She also b>doesn't wrap motherhood in cotton candy. There's still this imaginary bubble around it - women are not allowed to admit the many terrible sights of being mothers because then they'd be awful parents all of a sudden - as if we humans couldn't sometimes cry and hate things although we actually love them with all our heart.

The world needs people who talk real and Ali is one of them. She's funny and unapologetic. Not everything in this book was for me, many times I was a bit frustrated with her 'meandering around' which means I was impatient with her more often than not.
‘The answers to making it, to me, are a lot more universal than anyone's race or gender, and centre on having a tolerance for delayed gratification, a passion for the craft, and a willingness to fail.

What this quote implies is both frightening and true: if you want a shot at [insert literally anything], a leap of faith in yourself is mandatory. I must believe in myself to make it and to overcome difficulties and be able to deal with the feelings of failure in case I shouldn't. Go me!
_____________________
4 STARS. Would stay up beyond my typical hours to finish it. I found some minor details I didn't like, agree with or lacked in some kind but overall, this was enjoyable and extraordinary.

3 STARS. Decent read that I have neither strongly positive nor negative feelings about. Some things irked me and thus it does not qualify as exceptional.
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