Friday, May 02, 2008

Free Food for Millionaires

Free Food for Millionaires, by Min Jin Lee, is a book I really wanted to love. I am very interested in reading about cultures from an "insider's" perspective, so I thought this would be a good book to learn about the Korean-American immigrant experience from an insider. This book left me very much unsatisfied.

Casey, the main character, is rather ambivalent about everything in her life: school, friends, family, career choices (or lack of them, for that matter). In my view, the author attempts to make her into a sort of Korean, female Holden Caulfield (another character I dislike, for different reasons). Casey comes out of the Ivy League completely ill-equipped for real life in that she has developed an obsession with an affluent East Coast lifestyle without the money to fund it. In addition, she spurns opportunities offered to her that could give her access to the lifestyle she seems to crave. For example, her former boss is willing to fund graduate school in order to continue grooming her to be her eventual successor. She refuses because of her pride. In addition, she takes a job at a high-powered investment firm only to quit when she becomes eligible for promotion because of her secret desire to be a hat designer. She takes design classes but seems to lack the commitment for that field as well.

I grew so weary of her constant self-sabotage that I found myself skimming the pages to get to the end of the book faster. The ending was a bit too predictable for me. That is all I will say here; someone may be planning to read this book in spite of my comments.

All in all, I would recommend this as a "plane book;" something light to read while traveling. Trying to get anything more out of it would just be frustrating.

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