Fresh Off The Boat: A Memoir

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In the words of the author, Eddie Huang, this book is ill! (That’s a good thing!) Huang’s memoir, Fresh Off The Boat, is the basis of the hit ABC sitcom of the same name. If you’ve seen it, you’ll know it’s a pretty funny show. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for? The book however, is not quite the same. The show is much more Disney-fied while the actual memoir is pretty raw and gritty at times.

Don’t get me wrong. The book is still full of humour as Huang navigates what it’s like growing up as an Asian-American in 1990s Orlando, with humour, intelligence, and heart. He bares all as he describes all the fist fights, the drug pedaling, and the racism. You don’t see much of that in the TV sitcom. What you also don’t get from the TV show is the reason why his grandma is in a wheelchair. On the show, she shows up in every other scene to deliver a sassy line of dialogue. In the book, it turns out she’s in a wheelchair because her feet were bound when she was a child!

His obsession with hip hop is also rampant in the book, as is his love for sneakers, basketball, and food. Now the proprietor of NYC’s BaoHaus restaurant, this book clearly shows his trajectory from being a small time hoodlum to a law school graduate to restaurateur, and everything in between. Along for the ride are his two younger brothers, his badass of a father (also dumbed down for television), and his outrageous mother. Huang tackles the issues of race from his perspective, using his points of reference: hip hop, rap, basketball, and food.

This was an inspirational read. I can’t wait to go to NYC and visit his restaurant and maybe even meet the man himself.

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