Ali Wong is awesome. Her stand-up specials on Netflix are super funny so if you haven’t seen Baby Cobra and Hard-Knock Wife, I highly recommend watching those. Laughing and crying from the laughter might happen. It did to me. 🙂
So when Ali Wong announced that she is releasing a book, I pre-ordered it immediately!
Stand-up is not supposed to be warm and fuzzy or welcoming. If it was, everyone would be doing it.
Dear Girls is extremely funny, full of disgustingly juicy details from Ali’s life, but it also very interesting details from a person who has grown up and made her life in the middle of a multicultrural family and environment. That is a subject that is very personal to me too and that theme made this book extra special to me.
Dear Girls is a collection of letters Ali writes to her daughters so that the embarrassing moments and highlights of her life are passed on in case she suddenly dies. Basically this book is a backup in case her daughters have no-one to to ask about things like how mommy trapped daddy or how to recognize if an Asian restaurant is worth visiting or not. The book is full of “too much info, I almost peed my pants” kind of moments which is great! It seems like luckily things weren’t censored during editing, but then again perhaps this is the cleaned up version of the book in which case I would love to see the original version!
There is a lot of advice for Ali’s girls about relationships, sex, and about working hard to reach her success in stand-up comedy. It’s truly an inspiring book about making your own dreams come through through hard work.
I personally enjoyed a lot the parts where Ali describes the differences between her and her Vietnamese mom. Having a parent who has been raised in a very different culture brings its own issues to the parent-child relationship and this is something that I’ve thought of often. I’m half Vietnamese from my mother’s side and I can honestly say that we have no naturally common culture or even the same native language. It hasn’t been easy to understand how deep our different views go, and I’ve mostly seen it as a negative thing. Growing up, I used to even feel guilty about not embracing my Vietnamese heritage more but then again I was not born there, haven’t lived there and we didn’t participate in a Vietnamese community here in Finland. My identity is Finnish, my mother’s identity is not, and there are a lot of cultural differences that affect our relationship in a very complicated way.
Dear Girls reminded me of a detail that sometimes escapes my memory: my mom was born in the middle of the war, near Hanoi, and that of course affects the way that she has learned to live. This is what Ali said about her mom and having a challenging beginning in life that made me reflect:
“I also understood why my mom wasn’t into processing her feelings, and how she was just taught to get over a tragedy. To survive, she had to believe things like depression and allergies were a choice. In a culture entrenched in wartime, those who choose to be unhappy or to refuse gluten didn’t last long.”
Dear Girls offers lots of laughter but also details that were deeply relatable and meaningful, at least to me. I read Dear Girls in paperbook format but I bet this would’ve been even better as an audiobook and read by Ali herself.
I’m still in the middle of completing the Reading Challenge and Dear Girls fills the prompt of:
24. Book chosen from a bookshelf with your eyes closed
Yeah, I totally did not choose this from my bookshelf with my eyes closed, but I’m running out of available challenge prompts and I still want to use only one book for each prompt. 🙂 As my husband says when he listens to me rambling about how to complete the reading challenge: “You do you, honey.” Indeed. ❤
Anyways, Ali’s book was super funny, she is awesome and I highly recommend her book Dear Girls as well as her stand-up shows on Netflix.