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Book Notes – Fresh Off The Boat: A Memoir

What Is The Main Point Of This Book?

Telling the story of Eddie Huang, this memoir explores the childhood challenges of racism and stereotyping he and his family faced, ultimately illustrating how the aggressive attitude instilled in him from those experiences led him to do many positive things.

What Does This Book Share That Similar Books Do Not?

The ultimates thesis how it’s good to be different and remain prideful of one’s culture and heritage, even through marginalization. I think a lot of books try to tackle that, but this author does so in a funny and relatable style, sharing experiences that many readers may have had themselves. Born to immigrant parents living in the U.S, Huang discusses various events in his life, from hooking up with a girl in college for the first time, dealing with bullies, trying to start a business, to not feeling fulfilled in a boring job. He uses all those normal situations to accent what he has learned, while proudly and intentionally embodying his heritage.

Who Should Read This Book?

  • Anybody who’s experienced being marginalized for who they are and wants to get past that.
  • Anybody who’s felt like they’re a really creative, interesting, and weird (in a good way), but who’s going down a very normal and perhaps boring path. There’s a part of the book that describes how Huang went to college and then law school, eventually working as a lawyer. However, what he actually enjoyed doing was just being funny, hustling, and making food. He realized he needed to break away from the common path. I think people in a similar situation would like this a lot.

Who Should NOT Read This Book?

People who are a little more conservative. He’s very aggressive and open about his perspectives; he’s definitely a liberal person. If you’re more old-school, you might not appreciate the style in which he shares his story.

What Skills Will This Book Help You Develop?

It actually helped with my confidence and gave me a good feeling. It discussed how it’s possible to get out of a situation of feeling marginalized, to not feel trapped on any given path, and to pursue anything you’re interested in. That was really inspiring.

What Part Of The Book Was Most Illustrative Or Memorable?

The story that stood out to me the most was when Huang was struggling academically at school. He’s obviously a smart person, but he wasn’t getting good grades, which is an experience I had as well. Even though he’s a brilliant guy–ultimately writing this book–at the time, he couldn’t write well whatsoever.

What ultimately helped Huang develop his scholastic writing skills was his interest in Hip-Hop. He would listen to the greats of the early ’90s, like ‘A Tribe Called Quest’, and ‘Wu-Tang Clan’: people who were using vocabulary and language in a great way. He actually used Hip-Hop to better understand the English courses that didn’t make sense to him, due to the way his teachers explained it to him. He was leveraging what actually interested him to help him level-up and make progress in his education, as opposed to just relying on the standard path that wasn’t really working for him.

If You Only Have 10 Minutes, Which Part Should You Read?

Go right to the section where he’s already grown up and done with law school. That’s when you see his hustle really begin. Huang’s whole childhood is very interesting in how it formed who he is, but when he finishes law school and becomes a lawyer, he realizes he hates it and quits. He then gets involved in some side businesses—some legal and some not—ultimately leading to the start of his first restaurant. That’s the most inspiring part, because he’s such a scrappy entrepreneur.