kind of person would you be if you grew up feeling as if you were
always in limbo? Angela Lam was neither all Chinese nor all American and
had no personal power but many dreams. This is her story.
I'm eleven, not quite a little girl, not quite a young woman. There are things I know that I should not know, things of which I am not to speak, such as: I am not supposed to know my father works as a checkout clerk, not the grocery store manager. I am not supposed to know the dolls I play with are stolen. I am not supposed to know my parents have gambled away the second mortgage on the house instead of investing it in a new toilet, a shower with working doors, dual-pane windows, and a new roof. I am supposed to be a China doll, silent and submissive, an example to my sisters: Cynthia, eight, and Elizabeth, six.—Red Eggs and Good Luck by Angela Lam (SparkPoint Studio / She Writes Press, 2015, p. 1, ARC)
- Setting: modern times, California
- Circumstances: Angela Lam, a Chinese American, was raised by parents who had exacting but conflicting expectations for their daughters. Even more, her mother and especially her father held the sisters to an ethical standard that they themselves didn't even try to meet. Only later, after her father has a health crisis, does Angela begin to stand up for herself.
- People: Angela Lam; her sisters, Cynthia and Elizabeth; her mother, Margaret (Lammie Pie); her father Dave (Chee); various relatives; other people they come in contact with.
- Genre: memoir
- Themes: family, honesty, standing up for yourself, being yourself, independence, juggling others' expectations, growing up Chinese American, hope, understanding, forgiveness
- What I liked: The writing style and the story itself have a novel-esque feel. Once I started this memoir, I read it straight through in one sitting (it's short). Fascinating and heartbreaking all at once. My heart went out to young Angela, hoping for all good things for her. I'm not sure I would have found my voice if I had grown up in her family, but I'm glad Angela decided to speak out. You should know that, despite her father's controlling ways, Angela felt loved, even if she learned not to trust what she was told.
- Recommendations: Lam's well-written memoir gives us a look at a family struggling with personal vices and clashing cultural traditions, with personal dreams and family obligations. Now that Lam has found her voice, you won't want to miss her poignant observations, poetic language, and master storytelling talent. Highly recommended.