22 January 2008

New Favorite Book

Nice to be graduated from college so I actually have time to read books I choose! Ramsey and I often go to the library and look for books to read. I just finished reading "Bento Box in the Heartland. My Japanese Girlhood in Whitebread America." Linda Furiya, the author grew up in Versailles, Indiana where she was the only Asian family for miles. She writes about the difficulties of living in a community where she is constantly marked by her differences, specifically ethnicity and culture. She spends a great deal of time writing about all the Japanese dishes she grew up with and how it was her one bit of identity that she clung to and loved. At the end of the chapters it gives recipes, like the kind her mother made. So far I made four different kinds of rice balls: seaweed, black sesame, beef marinated in ginger and sake, and picked plum. I also made some Gyoza (Japanese pork dumplings). I'm sure I didn't make them as good as her mother's, but Ramsey liked them.

What I loved about this book was reading about how much the narrator grew to overcome the difficulties of being in a mélange of two cultures and how she finally grew to love being Japanese and even proud of her culture.

Linda Furiya

I feel I can relate to this book because I too at one time disliked my ethnicity. I was constantly made fun of for being white. Mostly, in elementary school. I remember I had one friend that stopped being my friend because the other girls told her I was a "stupid white girl." Most of the time I was labeled "little white girl" even though I was usually taller that those who referred to me as such.

So for the longest time I wanted to be different-vacillating between wanting to be Mexican and wanting to be Asian. Mexican for about elementary school to middle school and Asian (specifically Chinese) for about most of high school. In high school, most of my friends were Asian and sometimes I felt out of place-especially at their houses when we would all get together. It wasn't until college that I really felt comfortable in my own skin. I suppose it helped moving from LA to Utah. Sometimes I still yearn to be Asian or to have grown up Asian, but mostly because I wanted a Chinese mother who cooked regularly and cooked Chinese cuisine. And the good looks wouldn't be too bad either!

So, really even though the author and I came from different situations, I feel like I could really relate in so many levels. The way she writes is very personable and sincere. I really like how the book ended. She came to peace with her childhood. Something that I don't feel has happened for me yet. I also love how much she tributes her parents and loved them even through all of their mistakes.

Anyway, I really recommend for everyone to read this book! Check it out of your local library like I did!


  1. Wow Ness, I never knew you felt like that. I do understand being harassed for being white, though. Sounds like a great book!

  2. Oh, I so remember your "asian days." You were the only white person in the asian group in high school and yet it seemed like you fit right in.

    If you liked this book you should read my dad's book, "Quesadilla Moon." It's in the Salt Lake County Library System (I think) so you can request it. It's a sort of ficitional autobiography. The family and setting is true but the story itself is somewhat fictional. Anyway, I bet you'd like it.

  3. I remember your dad telling me about that book a long time ago. I'm glad it's published.