TITLE: Dear Girls–Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life
AUTHOR: Ali Wong
LENGTH: 214 pages
PUBLISHED IN: 2019
GENRE: non-fiction (autobiography, memoir)
REASON FOR READING: Ali Wong is hilarious
SUMMARY (book jacket):
Ali Wong’s heartfelt and hilarious letters to her daughters (the two she put to work while they were still in utero), covering everything they need to know in life, like the unpleasant details of dating, how to be a working mom in a male-dominated profession, and how she trapped their dad.
In her hit Netflix comedy special Baby Cobra, an eight-month pregnant Ali Wong resonated so heavily that she became a popular Halloween costume. Wong told the world her remarkably unfiltered thoughts on marriage, sex, Asian culture, working women, and why you never see new mom comics on stage but you sure see plenty of new dads.
The sharp insights and humor are even more personal in this completely original collection. She shares the wisdom she’s learned from a life in comedy and reveals stories from her life off stage, including the brutal singles life in New York (i.e. the inevitable confrontation with erectile dysfunction), reconnecting with her roots (and drinking snake blood) in Vietnam, tales of being a wild child growing up in San Francisco, and parenting war stories. Though addressed to her daughters, Ali Wong’s letters are absurdly funny, surprisingly moving, and enlightening (and disgusting) for all.
My Thoughts: If you don’t like Ali Wong’s comedy, you probably won’t appreciate this book. At least if you dislike her comedy because of it’s crude & crass presentation. I could easily envision her speaking these words, assuming that her stand-up is a decent representation of her real personality. Which, after having read this, I can say is definitely the case.
Each chapter of the book focuses on part of her life and is its own “letter” to her two daughters, still toddlers today. It is mostly in chronological order of her life up to this point, and I definitely learned about her as a person. I know not every person that comes off as blunt or crude is that way 100% of their lives, but in writing this, we get to see a bit about her thoughts and emotions at a more intimate level that definitely round her out as a person, rather than just the part most of us know as the comic. I mostly feel similar to her in the motherhood arena, given that she grew up in a different time & place–how can her life seem so much different at only 5 years older than me?? I “got” much of what she said about her formative years, but people born in 1982 and 1987 seem to have had such different childhoods. Plus, let’s be real–San Francisco and rural Ohio aren’t exactly the same…
But I digress. I enjoyed reading about her time traveling during and after college, which I wouldn’t say surprised me, just that I hadn’t ever considered her to be such a serious person (although, travel doesn’t make one “serious”, as her antics abroad clearly display). It just goes to show you not to judge a book by its cover.
One of my favorite parts of this was reading about her relationship with her husband. Her husband wrote the afterword, and even from his perspective, it appears they are remembering their story similarly. I gotta say, she is definitely lucky she “trapped his ass” as she so loving states because, while they don’t have a perfect relationship (newsflash, no one does), they both seem to understand what they need to do to make it all work for them. And he does sound like a catch in the super-supportive-partner category. I loved learning that the four of them tour together–I think that is such a sweet thing to do and is sort of humble, if that’s the right word to describe it.
I might have a sort of odd “rating system” in that I only give books a 5 of 5 if they are books I would read multiple times, but this is one I could see putting on my shelf at home and just picking up and reading it, in whole or in part, at any given time. It’s funny because I didn’t pay any attention to the book jacket for this book, and just thought to myself that “heartfelt & hilarious” was the best way to describe this book. Apparently so does whoever wrote the book jacket.
“The best word to describe parenting is ‘relentless.’ It’s a tennis-ball-launcher machine of tasks and mind puzzles and compromises and poo and pee and spit and barf with unlimited balls loaded. It’s always something.” p132 (I feel this to my core!! Really, p132-138 is probably felt across-the-board by all parents.)