Tuesday, August 20, 2013


My review today is on Happy Birthday or Whatever: Track Suits, Kim Chee, and other Family Disasters by Annie Choi.

Meet Annie Choi. She fears cable cars and refuses to eat anything that casts a shadow. Her brother thinks chicken is a vegetable. Her father occasionally starts fires at work. Her mother collects Jesus trading cards and wears plaid like it's a job. No matter how hard Annie and her family try to understand one another, they often come up hilariously short.

But in the midst of a family crisis, Annie comes to realize that the only way to survive one another is to stick together . . . as difficult as that might be. Annie Choi's "Happy Birthday or Whatever" is a sidesplitting, eye-opening, and transcendent tale of coping with an infuriating, demanding, but ultimately loving Korean family.

My thoughts: Two words can only describe this book: Funny and Sarcastic.

Annie Choi compiles a wonderful collection of short stories about growing up and family dysfunction.

In “Spelling Bee,” we learn how little Annie must prove to her Korean mother that she won’t end up in the street holding a sign that reads “Will Werk for Food.”

In “Stroke Order,” Annie tries to “[reclaim] the language she once knew and then forgot and then rejected.” (pg. 75)

The family was absolutely hilarious when they tell Annie to only bring home the man she’s going to marry, which then indirectly sabotages any relationship she ever has.

If you like Las Niñas: A Collection of Childhood Memories by Sarah Rafael Garcia, then you’ll love this Korean version of it, which is filled with powerful and gripping stories that make you feel right at home—after all, “in the end…we are family and we should spend time together, even if it kills us.” (pg. 213)


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