Dear Girls by Ali Wong | Book Review

A few weeks ago, I borrowed Dear Girls by Ali Wong from my local library, thinking about how Ali Wong was a badass woman, an inspiration, and wanting to see what she had to say. Dear Girls, her memoir, is a letter to her daughters in which she recollects things she’s done in her life. She warns them not to read the book before they turn 21 and I agree one hundred percent because boy, oh, boy, there’s some stuff that’s not share-worthy at all. Especially not to one’s daughters. But going into the book, I had some really high expectations – from the book, from actor Ali Wong, and from comedian Ali Wong, and from writer Ali Wong.

But I soon realized that these expectations were about to come crashing down on my head.

Book cover for Dear Girls by Ali Wong

Dear Girls is such a paradox because on one hand, Ali Wong says that it’s a letter to her daughters and while I can’t possibly tell anyone what to share with their daughters and what not to, the stuff she says in here are sometimes so explicit, so TMI that I cringed more than I laughed throughout the book. Stomaching her words was a task that needed monumental effort and something that physically pains me to this day. On the other hand, if she wanted to share these things with her daughters, why make them public? Because honestly, I don’t see the point. They just don’t need to know all of that. Then again, who am I to tell you want you can and cannot share with your kids? They’re your kids. Tell them things as you see fit. But THEN AGAIN…

But a couple of things I have to acknowledge:

Ali Wong’s experiences as a female stand up comedian are enlightening to say the least, her calling out the sexism and misogyny of the world, and her thoughts/experiences of growing up Chinese-Vietnamese-American and visiting Vietnam later were intriguing enough to have kept me through the cringe. Yet, she somehow comes off as callously tone deaf in so many of the things she talks about – something that left a bad taste as I progressed with the book.

Not to be gross by following up talking about ‘bad taste’ with ‘pee’, but why is there so much peeing in this book? Yes, talking about womanly bodily fluids is important, but come on, do they need to know that you peed on a main road in the middle of the night through a book? Tell them, if you like. why put it in a book like this? Why tell your daughters about the kind of things you got up to because you didn’t respect someone’s property and went ahead and peed on it? Why brag?

So many places had me cringing either because of how unnecessarily explicit or how tone deaf they were. Look, I still think Ali Wong is hilarious – there are many places where I laughed out loud because of how cheeky she was being. But the cringe overshadowed everything else so much, I began to question myself.

It’s also true that we put an unfair amount of burden on a woman as she tells her story, but trust me, this one merely reminded me of Wetlands by Charlotte Roche, and if you remember that book because of me, you’ll remember how grossed out I am with stuff like that. And when it’s being told to the author’s kids – irrespective of whether or not she orders them to read it only after they turn 21 – it’s still too much information to hand to your kids about your own life. Perhaps just call it a memoir and leave it at that. Maybe don’t address kids when you’re talking about sleeping with people, and doing dirty stuff like peeing and crapping in weird locations. And maybe, just maybe, don’t be so vehement/intolerant towards people who don’t like the things you do. It seems like an anticlimactic, rather hypocritical take on my part, but if you’ve read Dear Girls by Ali Wong, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Trying to be relatable and ‘cool’ by proudly listing out all these things doesn’t work most times. For me, at least. Toilet humor can only take your books and your story to a certain point. If you lean on it so heavily that your book becomes known just for that and not for what lies underneath, then it’s my opinion that you’re not doing a great job. And it’s not a compliment when you remind someone of a book like Wetlands.

Anyway. That’s me done with this book.

I wasn’t a fan. It would probably have been better as a standup set because in so many places, the tone seems to be lost. But I still have my doubts. This doesn’t mean I’m discounting Ali Wong and her work, though. I’ll still probably watch her comedy. Then again, the current situation with Beef has me even more confused as to what to think of her, new light and all. Let’s see what the future holds…

So that was my book review of Dear Girls by Ali Wong. What did you think of this review? Liked it? Didn’t like it? Have you read this book? Will you read it? Did you like the book? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you! 😊

I’ll see you in the next blog post.

Until next time, keep reading, keep watching, and add melodrama to your life! ❤

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