Friday, September 24, 2010

Everything Asian by Sung J. Woo

Title/Author: Everything Asian/Sung J. Woo
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
No. of pages: 328
ISBN 13: 978-0-312-53885-9
Price: RM49.90

In a nutshell

David Kim, his fifteen-year-old sister and mom arrived in New Jersey a month ago to be with his dad whom he's meeting for the first time in five years. He's finding it hard to cope, his sister is feeling miserable and his mom isn't exactly happy, either. To top it all, he had to help out at his dad's gift shop, East Meet West, and he can't speak a word of English.

Welcome to the 'wonderful' world of David Kim.

What I liked
David's dysfunctional family kept me hooked. Here, we have a dad who tries so hard to please his son, a mom who's feeling lost and empty, a miserable sister whose mood swings from one end to the other, David who despises his dad and gets terribly annoyed when he calls him 'my good son', but gets jealous when his dad starts to shower his attention to a new kid on the block. Each of them tries hard to adapt to their new surroundings, like inviting one of the merchants of Peddlars Town, Ted and his family over for dinner to practice their English on them, eating American food and picking out English names.

The story moves very 'smoothly' from chapter to chapter, each portraying a different character. Through these vignettes, we get to learn a little bit more about the other merchants at Peddlars Town. As the story progresses, we'll be let into the dark secrets of the family members that test the strength of their relationships, especially that of David's family.

Other characters that I was particularly drawn to were Ted and his son. When Ted found out his son, cross dresses, he did the same too and managed to convince his wife that he did so because of his son, so that he could 'see what it was like...'

Everything Asian central themes are love, acceptance and forgiveness. Overall to me, this would make a good, pleasant weekend read. One that would go perfectly with a cup of ice lemon tea :)

What could have been better
In the beginning, I wasn't quite comfortable with the switching of POVs, from first to third-person, but after awhile, I got the hang of it. I believe the author's intention was to make the stories the other characters more personal, and to let us see David and his family from their point of view. But I feel that the story would be stronger if the author were to use David and/his family's voice, since the story mainly revolves around them and how they're coping with the American's way of life.

The sudden flashbacks and coming back to present can also be quite distracting sometimes.

My verdict? 3.5/5

4 comments:

Au and Target said...

This sounds interesting, esp the style change.

A Bookaholic said...

:)) to me it 'felt' quite abrupt at first...cuz at times it's done in the middle of a chapter, and u'd be left wondering, who's 'talking'....but u'd get the hang of it soon enuf... :)

Xweing said...

This sounds like an interesting book to read... although the Asian immigrant-to-America story/theme might be more typical than dysfunctional...

A Bookaholic said...

Yes, the story line is quite a typical one when one family lives in a different country, but I'd say it's the family that's kinda dysfunctional...

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