I Love Yous are for White People
“I Love Yous are for White People” is a book title that invites a comedic undertone. However, upon reading the book, you’ll find it is far from a one line quip about asian culture but a deep, and often painful, story about an immigrant family struggling to belong in a new world.
The book is a memoir by Lac Su, who escaped from Vietnam as a young child with his family. The story is not focused on their escape, but rather on his struggles growing up with poverty, gangs, abuse, and a harsh and head strong father. The dedication at the beginning of the book reads:
I remember everything you said to me, everything you’ve never said to me, everything you’ve done to me, and everything you’ve done for me.”
The book follows the author’s tense interaction with his father and Lac’s attempts, an often failures, to gain his approval. At one point, Lac finally found the courage to utter those three words to his father, to which is father responds:
“Are you trying to imitate those white people by telling me those f- words? … Is that what the whites are teaching you at school? To say stupid things and stand there crying like a girl? If you love me, show me. … Words are useless – they do nothing but piss me off.”
Despite the at times antagonistic portrayal of his father, Lac Su ultimately redeems him by digging deep into the meaning of the title of his book. To his father, words are just words. Although unspoken, Lac’s father love for his family is apparent through what is he willing to do, from dumpster diving to an uncompromising drive to give his children a chance for a great education.
“I Love Yous are for White People” is a great read for generation Asian Americans who likely experienced the same generational and cultural divide and is a big step for Asian Americans in literature.
Review from 8Asians.com.