Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong

Authenticity, bravery, and a willingness to just put it all out there. These are tips a comedian could really take to heart. Turns out, they're also what Ali Wong hopes her daughters will learn from reading the series of letters in this book. I have faith they'll get it, eventually.

I'm a fan of Ali Wong. Her stand-up specials (on Netflix) are great. Watching them during the pandemic gave me an opportunity to laugh when those moments were hard to find. A little too transparent for some, I personally think that discomfort is good to feel. She talks about what she wants to talk about. I believe it's her way of getting to the real truths of life. These letters are no different. I'm sure her daughters will one day yell, "TMI!!!!," as they read this book, but then, they'll nod, laugh, and feel thankful their mom had some sage wisdom waiting.

I also admire all that this book gets into. The letters embrace her Asian heritage rather than attempting to Americanize her life. She also doesn't shy away from showing "us" our shortcomings in how we talk to female comedians or celebrity moms. You don't refer to a male comedian as a "male comedian," and yet she came up having her gender constantly be a part of her professional title. You don't often ask fathers what it's like juggling parenthood and a career, but how quick are people to toss that question out to a mom? Ali has your number. Watch out if she turns you into fresh material.

This book observed so many things I didn't notice I'd seen too. It helped explain them with the kind of grave honestly and brutal detail that resonates. It was an enjoyable and personal read culminating in the most wonderful letter written by Ali's husband. To see her story from her perspective, and then his, deeply illustrated what a loving relationship can be. I hope that inspires Ali's girls (and the readers) most of all. 

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