Saturday, December 17, 2011
Sushi for One? by Camy Tang
After a lot of dilly-dallying, I picked up the book and finished it amazingly quickly. This book has quite an interesting premise: Lex, our protagonist, is being forced by her grandmother to find a boyfriend within a month, or funding for the girl's volleyball club that she coaches will be cut off.
The closeness of the Japanese-Chinese American community was one aspect of the book that pleasantly surprised me. Here, it seems that no matter what, the Chinese (at least my family, or the older generation), harbours some bad blood due to World War II. Perfectly legitimate, although the snide remarks about me somehow being a traitor gets to me sometimes. After all that, it's quite adorable to see a closely-knit Chinese-Japanese American community.
And because most of the main characters are Asian-Americans, there are quite some interesting family dynamics at play. What wouldn't be out-of-place in a Hong Kong/Taiwan/Singaporean drama serial appears here, such as the domineering matriarch, the calling-in-favours thing (Lex lost a potential sponsor because her grandma has more influence than here), all sound familiar. I guess some things never change.
Besides all the Asian aspects of the book, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I think the God-aspect was also brought out pretty well. Lex isn't a perfect Christian and Aidan (the other main character) isn't even Christian to begin with. But their struggles seem very real, and Aidan's slow progression to Christianity, didn't seem very forced, although I would have liked to see more definite turning points in his spiritual journey.
I also admired the way she painted the Christian and non-Christian communities, warts and all. One really interesting episode happens when Lex is at a Church trying to get funding for her Volleyball team. One guy refuses to donate unless it's overtly evangelical, and the other will only donate to overseas missions - to which, Lex mentions how she wants the rest of her family (who are mostly Buddhist) to come to Christ and they live in America, not some far-away country. I think this is a really good lesson for us. When I was reading it, it painfully brought back the foibles of us, even (or should I say especially) here in Singapore. We really should take note and try to change it.
This is one of the few books in the recent time period that I completely praise. It's rare, since although I like/love most books, my reviews (for some reason or another) tend to focus on the -sometimes minuscule- flaws present. It's a nice change I think.