An Interesting Memoir

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Susan Lieu has long been searching for answers. About her family’s past and about her own future. Refugees from the Vietnam War, Susan’s family escaped to California in the 1980s after five failed attempts. Upon arrival, Susan’s mother was their savvy, charismatic North Star, setting up two successful nail salons and orchestrating every success—until Susan was eleven. That year, her mother died from a botched tummy tuck. After the funeral, no one was ever allowed to talk about her or what had happened.

For the next twenty years, Susan navigated a series of cascading questions alone—why did the most perfect person in her life want to change her body? Why would no one tell her about her mother’s life in Vietnam? And how did this surgeon, who preyed on Vietnamese immigrants, go on operating after her mother’s death? Sifting through depositions, tracking down the surgeon’s family, and enlisting the help of spirit channelers, Susan uncovers the painful truth of her mother, herself, and the impossible ideal of beauty.

This was an interesting memoir. As a mother of a daughter, I have also asked myself how I raise her so she doesn’t end up hating her body. It’s a tough world for women and the last thing I want is my daughter to struggle with body issues. I connected a lot with Susan and her desire to be understood by her family. I appreciated her candor and sense of humor. If you’re looking for a unique memoir, you should definitely check this one out! I think it would pair nicely with If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha.