SCPL Online NonFiction Book Club discussion

Naturally Tan
This topic is about Naturally Tan
Naturally Tan > Tan's Early Life

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by SCPL (new) - added it

SCPL (st_catharines_public_library) | 542 comments Mod
In the first few chapters of the book, Tan France chronicles many events in his childhood and teenage years. For example, he discusses knowing that he way gay as long as he can remember, and assuming that he would be able to marry another man until he learned otherwise from his sisters. He also talks about growing up in a mostly white area of England called South Yorkshire. At one point in the first chapter he shares a terrifying and disturbing encounter between him and his brother and a group of local bullies. Knowing they couldn’t get by the group, his older brother tells him to run home while he stays behind. Tan does, and alerts his parents, his dad then running barefoot into the street to help his son, who had already been severely beaten by the bullies. Tan also talks about spending summers with his grandfather who owned a denim factory in England, and being fascinated with the process of making clothes. Why do you think Tan chose to share these stories from his early life? How do you think these events shaped him?

Alana | 3 comments Tan mentions on and off throughout his book the importance of his skin colour and how it has made him into the man he is today. The stories he mentions at the beginning of the book about being bullied and the pressures he faced, are also mentioned throughout the book, provided with different examples. A good example of this is near the end of his book, when Tan spoke of his community and fair skinned babies. Tan stated that individuals were not interested in the baby’s gender, but rather, the colour of the baby’s skin. Upon finishing Tan’s book, it is clear to see he is proud of who he is, and he is happy with how far society has come with accepting people of different diversities and ethical backgrounds in the media. It is believed that the stories Tan told about his childhood, were set intentionally at the beginning of the book in order to open the readers eyes of how at such a young age the colour of one’s skin can make a big difference.

message 3: by SCPL (last edited Jan 10, 2020 11:13AM) (new) - added it

SCPL (st_catharines_public_library) | 542 comments Mod
Thank you for your comments, Alana. You make a great point. The importance of skin colour and the way he is treated because of it is a theme throughout his book, and it's great to read about how Tan has achieved so much happiness and self-acceptance.

Heidi Madden | 118 comments This book is a memoir rather than an autobiography. Memoirs tend to include an author’s reminiscing and reflecting on specific events that shaped them as individuals rather than the chronological retelling of events. I’m only about a quarter of the way into the book but Tan is doing an incredible job of tying significant events and memories with general life lessons and advice. He’s helping the reader get to know him as a person and what has shaped him while also showing how the lessons can possibly apply to their own lives. Being bullied is something that many people can relate to. Being bullied specifically because of the colour of your skin is something that profoundly shaped Tan and his personal development. The stories about being at his grandfather’s denim factory help us see how, for him, making clothes was a very natural thing. I’m listening to the audio book and for awhile I thought that chapter was titled “Genes” rather than “Jeans” since he talked about taking after his grandfather :D

message 5: by SCPL (new) - added it

SCPL (st_catharines_public_library) | 542 comments Mod
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Heidi. I agree that how Tan was treated because of his skin colour is an important part of his life story, as was spending time at his grandfather's denim factory in terms of showing an early proclivity for fashion design.

back to top