A friend sent me Constance Wu's book to read, and I'm grateful I did, but for the first half the book I wasn't sure why I was reading this book. After she returned to social media and revealed what led to her disappearance from it, I was curious to know her story, but I wasn't necessarily thinking, "Omg I have to know." I loved Fresh Off the Boat, loved Crazy Rich Asians, but I didn't necessarily love her. I didn't not like her, I just wasn't like "wow, I love her." I mean, it is pretty freaking cool to be the lead in two groundbreaking and game-changing projects. But here's why I'm writing about this book here and recommending it.
As I mentioned, I wasn't totally sure why I was reading the book at first. The stories she shared were interesting, but not like "wow, I'm so glad I read that." I didn't feel inspired the way I've felt reading other memoirs or biographies. Up until the chapter about her rape, they were all nice stories with nice lessons, but I kind of got the sense that she was explaining herself. And after finishing the book, I still think that at least part of the reason for this book is to explain herself.
But when I got to the chapter about her rape, I thought, if for nothing else, then this chapter is worth the read. What she shares is so important. SPOILER ALERT: it's so important, because we often equate rape to violence. But as in her case, rape is not always violent. And her reaction to her rape is so relatable and probably very common. I'm seriously so glad and proud of her for sharing this trauma, because people need to read it. They need to know that this is also rape. And one of the big problems I think we face as a society, is that many people do not understand that basics of consent.
I also think it was important that she shared the backstory of what led her to tweeting the tweet that ultimately found her standing on the edge of her balcony contemplating ending it all. The harassment she experienced during the first two seasons of Fresh Off the Boat were grotesque and her reaction to the behaviors exhibited by her abuser are also very common - "playing it off" so that she could be accepted by the boy's club instead of face being called difficult or told to lighten up or whatever gaslighting excuse abusers often use. I'm paraphrasing a bunch, but besides her reactions, I think she also states something important at the end of this chapter. That is, she gives perspective as to where this person's behavior may have stemmed from, not that it excuses his behavior, but it's another issue that requires attention and a cultural shift.
In the end, I really enjoyed reading about her time spent at Buddhist monastery in Taiwan, the chapters about her cars and her parents. One of the earlier chapters I did enjoy was about her high school job working in a bread bakery.
Personally, the interesting thing about this read is that I found myself relating to a lot of what she writes about, but not in the "good" way. Not in the way where I'm thinking, "Yes, girl! I so get you!" No, it was more in a reflective way of examining and even understanding some of the things I've struggled with about my own identity and my own past experiences. And ultimately, I'm grateful, because I think it took a lot of humility to put this collection of essays together and share it with the world. Constance takes a very honest look at herself and her experiences, and I appreciate that.
As a fellow theater kid with big emotions, it helped to read her stories, because I feel a little more accepting of the parts of me and my past that I normally attach shame or guilt to.
So, thank you, Constance. And thank you, Katia, for sending me the book.
If you haven't read her book. I definitely recommend it. And it's very well written.