Friday, May 13, 2011

Stealing Buddha's Dinner

Initially, I was drawn to Bich Minh Nguyen's memoir, Stealing Buddha's Dinner, because of its cover. The hardcover version features an offering plate that holds an ice cream cone, Pringles, a candy necklace, Skittles, and a Hostess cupcake. My mouth watering, I picked up the book and began to read.

Nguyen and her family moved to the United States from Vietnam when she was a young child, and her memoir describes her attempts to become "Americanized." This is a book about food and family, as many memoirs are, but it's about much more than that.
Nguyen tells a story of assimilation, frustration, and yearning--not only for all the sugary treats her classmates have, but for a sense of belonging. In these pages, we read about Wonder Bread and sticky rice cakes and tamales, and about their significance in forming Nguyen's identity. And we meet Nguyen's colorful family: her calm, devout grandmother, who offers the best pieces of fruit to Buddha every day; her stern but caring Hispanic stepmother, who struggles to hold together the often-flailing family; and her socialite father, who clings to his roots by attending and hosting huge parties for his Vietnamese friends.

Find it at the library!

~Queen of Books

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