Tuesday, May 10, 2011

read it: Girls for Breakfast

before i write anything else, i just wanted to share this from the book that almost made me blow chai tea latte out my nose: "...now that's what i call true love. doinking each other's brains out even as the pyroclastic flow vaporizes their genitalia...."

here's the synopsis from the author's website:

"On his graduation day from Renfield High, Nick Park is determined to figure out if his heritage is the cause of his abysmal luck with girls.

Beginning the novel as an unreliable and unknowingly comic narrator, Nick Park struggles to fit into Renfield--an alarmingly homogeneous Connecticut suburb as he grapples with his own ambivalence towards his ethnicity and his neurotic love for girls. Girls For Breakfast is a uniquely funny, unforgettable meditation on love and race, family and friendship,acceptance and isolation.

From killing a hamster in 3rd grade in front of his entire class, to contracting illicit photos of his 8th grade crush, to repeatedly lying about being a 4th degree black belt, Nick Park is a character that you will remember long after you close this book."

zomg... this book was HILARIOUS to read... and for some reason, i kept seeing a young ken leung in my head. and although my love/hate relationship with nick was unnerving and frustrating at times, i have to give david yoo a standing ovation for making me care about and worry over nick park anyway... :)

before i read the book, i thought i'd relate to the character and story for sure because like nick, i grew up in the 80s/90s as well (the all too familiar pop culture references were also a bonus), my high school years were spent in a predominantly white suburb of chicago (my mother was afraid of the chicago schools) and i was one of a (ok, maybe two) handful(s) of asian american students in my class.

unlike nick, my feeling of "otherness" didn't stem from my being asian american - although that blossomed as well - my self segregation came from my facial malformation. when nick realizes his friends notice another asian student as someone "abnormal" or "other", he realizes they think similarly of him. and after all his madcap adventures, in the end, nick's epiphany is that although he may have been judged and bullied unfairly because of his race - his classmates also judged him because he was a completely boneheaded (and slightly pervy) teenager.

it reminded me of a similar situation, when friends of mine commented on another friend being aloof and conceited. i was shocked that they could think that of someone who was very friendly/nice to me and also painfully shy. and i realized that it was possible that i didn't have nearly as many friends because i was really shy too and would rather avoid the risk of rejection completely - not necessarily because i looked the way i did (do).

the same feelings of "non-belonging" (to his non-asian classmates and his korean church's youth club) that nick felt resonated with me as well. i have also felt like i have a foot in the doorway of my asian american identity and another in the doorway of my filipino roots - and conflicted with both. often, i still feel this way... it makes me even more aware of what porkchop and paloma might feel someday or maybe even now and maybe just too young to articulate it...

someday, i hope i stop being so shy, to stop segregating myself from the world, to stop trying to "normalize" myself for the comfort of others and to stop assuming things about other people... i almost always assume (from past experiences) that most people won't talk to me because they don't think a) i speak english b) we have anything in common because we're not the same skin color, age or economic/social class. c) they can stop staring at me.

anyway, this turned out to be a very pensive and kinda depressing review - i rambled. apologies... :) girls for breakfast brought back a lot of high school memories (and nightmares) of who i was, the boys and girls i knew and loved and those others who i quietly disliked...

all in all, the book is painfully (think brazilian wax) honest, so funny (your body will revolt) and often times, an emotional freakshow. i'm not sure i'd be too excited to hear that paloma or porkchop picked it up in high school as there's a LOT of sexual innuendo and sex described in the book - but that's just me... and they're only 8 and 5 now... ask me again in a few years... :) but, for the random adult especially if you grew up in the 80s/90s - i highly recommend it for an easy and hysterical summer read. :)

thanks for coming by and reading!


Chicago Chick said...

I will definitely check the book out. I went to high school in a predominantly white suburb in th 80s/90s. It changes your outlook on many things. Thankfully I grew up in the city.

Geraly said...

hi irene! :) for me, my high school years were not the most enjoyable so, this book resonated with me in many ways and brought back some bittersweet memories... still hilarious all the same... makes me wonder (and shudder a bit) what high school will be like for our kids... O_o


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