As a Hulu enthusiast, I’ve been enjoying new shows, like ‘Fresh Off the Boat.’ When I found out it was based on a memoir, I knew I needed to read it. Please read that as ‘loosely’ based.
Eddie Huang tells of growing up and being raised by a family known as FOB (Fresh off the Boat) that is equals parts crazy and awesome. Eddie finds his place in the outcasts, his love of food and rap music distancing himself from the homogenized suburbs of 90s Florida almost as much as his looks. At home, Eddie is sometimes the ‘old son’ and sometimes the troublemaker. His father runs a restaurant and his mother runs his family. And after school, there’s college and then there’s the real world—Huang is honest and forthcoming about the highs and lows of this time. No matter how incriminating they may be. Perhaps the deeper message running through Fresh Off the Boat is one of empowerment for Asians and minorities of all kinds to step away from what’s expected of them and be themselves, no matter the cost.
While I am a huge fan of the comedic and family-oriented aspects of the show based on this book, please note that the ABC network show is VERY different from what Huang discusses in the darker parts of his book—from a father with a dark side (whom was considered a ‘G’ in homeland Taiwan and the Huang boys’ propensity for carrying knives and fighting. It’s a very Disney-sensitized form of the book—and I really enjoy both for different reasons.
I was intrigued to read a book from a First Born American (child of an immigrant), as I am the daughter of an immigrant. Life is much harder for Eddie than it was for me, but it is definitely hard to live up to old country expectations in the US. Eddie uses rap music and street gear (and a little knocking heads) to get his message across. A lot is placed on Eddie, but it would take almost thirty years for Eddie to follow a passion of his to ‘make it’ (as he had been often considered the black sheep of the family).
Reading this book made me re-live things in the 90s (especially rap) that I was not allowed to listen to—I was very sheltered when it came to music growing up (I could tell you there was a B.I.G. and a Tupac and they repped the East and West, respectively, but that was about it. And while I thought it was cute for my brothers to recite lyrics like ‘I Wanna see your tootsie roll’ or ‘I like it when you call me big poppa,’ I was way more into the alternative music scene.
As much as it sounds like Eddie is trying to be a gangster, he comes by it honestly—as his father’s experiences in Taiwan were pretty gang-laden. But whatever the case, Eddie details honest, gritty details about showing authenticity in the US when the cards are stacked against you. And readers will keep pulling for Eddie and will be pulling for him throughout reading the novel.
While I picked this up electronically, Fresh off the Boat is available at your favorite retailer in your favorite format. Pick it up today!’