Saturday, December 08, 2007


Free Food For Millionaires, Min Jin Lee, Hachette Book Group USA, 2007, 560 pp

In the end, this was a satisfying story. Casey Han is a bright young woman whose parents are Korean immigrants. She was raised in Queens in a small apartment and managed to go to Princeton University on scholarship. As the story opens, she has just graduated from Princeton, magna cum laud in economics. Now she is supposed to go on to law school but she doesn't want to. There ensues a huge fight with her father after which he throws her out of the house.

Casey proceeds to run up credit card debt, sleep with men (Korean and American), acquire and mess up relationships and finally figure out a couple things. There are a few other main characters, all Korean, who serve to show Casey's relationships as well as the troubles and triumphs of two generations of Koreans in America.

The writing is not great but pretty good. This reader felt concerned and irritated by turns, as the characters made their disastrous choices and suffered for them. The women especially were either too emotional (lots of crying), too hard or too pious (big Christianity thing going on.) But Min Jin Lee creates a believable account of what it is like for Koreans trying to achieve the American dream while integrating their beliefs and customs into our materialistic and godless society. She does particularly well with the question of women, their inhibitions, their roles and the nearly impossible track that younger women must tread. She also gets the class and economic thing quite well. It was certainly worth reading.

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