Saturday, May 21, 2011

Review: Buddha Baby

Did you know that May is Asian Heritage month? I didn't. Hell, I only found out about from a commercial on TV. So I said, "Hey, I guess I'm reading the right book right now." And I just finished it!

Buddha Baby by Kim Wong Keltner

Summary:Want to learn a thing or two about a young Chinese-American woman with a penchant for Hello Kitty toys, who could be found squeezing into jeans at Old Navy while being asked for detailed explanations of Yo-Yo Ma's success?

This is a story about Lindsey as she continues her quest for identity, family secrets, and true love. Will she find double happiness, or will she be tempted by one last lion dance with a stranger? Ultimately, Lindsey realizes that Chinese girls really wanna have chow fun.

My thoughts: The name "Kim Wong Keltner" is not unfamiliar to me. I tried reading her only YA novel, I want Candy, and failed revoltingly because, quite frankly, the details were so sexually explicit that it made me want to vomit. But then I read her very first book, The Dim Sum of All Things, and ended up enjoying it a great deal. Kim's style was so hilarious that I wanted to give the next book--a follow up re-starring her lovable main character, Lindsey Owyang--a must read.

Buddha Baby, like the first book, instantly starts off funny, witty, and smart. I loved the way Lindsey depicted her family, especially her grub-stealing aunt. The author had described a caper similar to How the Grinch stole Christmas, where Lindsey asked her aunt where she was going with their dinner like "Cindy Liu-Hu." Clever and funny!

As pointed out in the first book, Lindsey still doesn't want to be perceived as the silent, no-opinion, money-making Chinese girl like her cousin. In fact, she still makes every attempt to hide her "Chinese-ness." And I totally get the idea of wanting to pursue artistic endeavors and not get stuck in a corporate prison. I guess that's why Lindsey was working two part-time jobs. In fact, she had stated that her career choices were a direct contradiction to her Asian-ness as she was supposed to be banking a great salary and have all this money saved up. But I agree: why can't you enjoy the money now before you get too old and enfeebled to do anything with it?

While reading her story, I often wondered why Lindsey would want to know about her parents and grandparents all of a sudden. To learn more about herself or her Chinese-ness possibly?

Lindsey's boyfriend, Michael--the "you-look-good-without-any-make-up-on" guy--is the kind of guy we girls only dream of. But things go into a rocky turmoil when Lindsey reconnects with an old school crush named Dustin, who seemed to have really connected with Lindsey on all levels, especially with regards to their Asian-ness. They seemed to feel the exact same way, like they were the same person practically--a rare connection nowadays. Most of the time, Dustin was a smoldering hottie; but, other times, he was just plain cocky. And why was he trying to get Lindsey to sleep with him even though he knew she had a boyfriend? I actually wondered if Lindsey would succumb to the tempation of Dustin. Will she give in to her secret desires? Will she ruin all that she had with Michael? I had to keep on reading to find out.

At times, I felt that the author embellished too much on the past and not enough on the present. Most of the scenes from her Catholic school days were sort've dull and, in my opinion, served no real purpose in the story. There was also a constant back-and-forth transition between past and present. I usually don't mind visiting the past every so often, but not in every other chapter!

I liked that that author had an eye and ear for details. You can tell that she has a deep fondness for the city of San Francisco; however, I felt that some of the details were kind of long-winded. Details can be great, especially when they are well-crafted, but, like with anything else in life, too much of anything is never a good thing; and I think that the writer could've cut back a little (a lot, actually.)

I also felt that the story dealt with too much religion. This may come from my own personal taste since I am not a religious person in any kind of sense. But still, is that why it was called Buddha Baby? It was just too pious.

Overall, I didn't quite enjoy this book as much as The Dim Sum of all things, because I guess I couldn't relate to it as much as far as humor and wit were concerned. Really, it was mostly about Lindsey's quest to learn more about her grandparents' history, and her deep pondering regarding the strength and commitment level of her relationship with Michael. If you were to ask my opinion of this book, I'd come back with, "Eh."

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