Hi, I’m the lone woman of color in your book club. I’ll try to provide the perspective from the point of view of an entire community, race, ethnic group, all while being just one person with a unique background, upbringing, and experience.
Oh, yeah, I thought the book was great. Though I did not feel the same sense of “being totally validated” by the section in the first chapter where the protagonist details their experiences at sleepaway camp that Tess, Brianna, Hannah, and Harper felt. And it’s not because “people from India already live in tents,” Brianna. They don’t and I am actually not Indian; I’m Mexican. No, I didn’t relate mostly because I have never been to any sort of camp in my life. I’ve never actually been camping either. I’ve lied about going camping many times over, though.
I also did not quite go through the “emotional rollercoaster of a flashback” that Sara, Deirdre, DeeDee, and Hope did from the section of the book where the protagonist talks about visiting her dad’s office as a child and witnessing him being someone other than her father. No, Hope, it’s not because my dad abandoned us to go live with his “other family.” That’s not a “Mexican” thing. The main reason for my lack of emotional response to that is because my dad did not have an office. No, not because he was in prison, Hannah. My dad’s “office” was a diner kitchen because my dad was a fry cook. And while I did visit him there, he seemed pretty much the same man at work as he was at home. He was jokey, irreverent, and silly, plus he fed me food that was bad for me. I did lie about what he did for a living though, for many, many years. And I have nodded in mock understanding when someone talked about their “dad’s office.”
Oh, and the part where the protagonist was on vacation with her family, as an adult — I did not find that as “riotously funny and accurate” or “too close to home” like Sara, Harper, Hannah, DeeDee, Deirdre, Hope, Tess, Brianna, and Emma did. To be honest, I have never been on a family vacation, not as a child or an adult. No Emma, not because we were in German concentration camps. We were not Jewish and it was not the 1930s. Although there is one thing we did as a family: when I was six years old we went to downtown L.A. so my parents and brothers could get their pictures taken to use for their application for a green card, which they ended up receiving during the Reagan administration’s “Amnesty For All” policy. Subsequently, my parents and brothers became “Resident Aliens,” even though we never visited outer space alone or as a family. But I have made up several false family vacation stories.
Ah yes, the ending. That was a doozy. I can definitely relate to the protagonist overcoming her grief through a series of costly divorces, career changes, and world travels leading to her finding the love of her life in an exotic locale and relocating. No Tess, not because I am a prostitute and I am being kept by a pimp. I’m not a prostitute; I’m Mexican. I was making a joke. Yes, Harper, I do joke around. And Yes, DeeDee, I do believe that deaf people make jokes. But I AM NOT DEAF. I am Mexican.