Free Food for Millionaires was recommended to me by Sara S., a friend I made during a work trip to CA this past April. I finally nabbed it at the Carnegie Library last week and now I’m going to be recommending that everyone else read it!
It’s a hefty book, but it was pretty light reading and a great summer/beach read. Not sure that I’d recommend it to my guy friends–I’d go so far as to say it’s a “chick lit” book (I’m not a fan of fluffy/fake/trashy chick lit, but do enjoy smart, well-written books written by women for women) though it goes a little deeper than most chick lits. Some of the book’s themes are more serious–race, society, class, love, religion, infidelity–and the writing is more like Jodi Picoult than Jennifer Weiner.
The book centers on Casey Han, a Korean-American twenty-something who graduates from Princeton, moves back home to Queens, where her parents own a dry cleaners, and begins her life as an adult. The story takes covers her 4+ years after college and her (and her friends/family’s) good, bad and ugly life decisions. I kept asking myself if she was believable as a character (she’s certainly complex) considering she’s a Princeton grad, gets her MBA at NYU, has a golf handicap of 14, reads the Bible and attends church weekly, but also puts herself in immense credit card debt, will buy extremely high end clothing in order to keep up appearances and makes bad decisions about guys. Some of her decisions are based on finding her identity, grappling with her very traditional Korean family and upbringing and trying to manage independently in a city like New York. So maybe not totally believable, but to some extent, most of us can relate to her in some way.
Auther Min Jin Lee also delves into the lives of other characters, like Casey’s mom, her friend Ella, etc., which helps make the book multidimensional rather than just about Casey. Whether you’re reading about Casey or her friends and family, the book centers around relationships and love. But with all that happens to the characters in the book (rape, amazing acts of generosity, a three-some, admittance to the most competitive schools in the U.S.), I have to say the book becomes slightly melodramatic…though never boring!
I really enjoyed Free Food for Millionaires! I can’t say I’ve read a book just like it. Considering this is Lee’s first novel, I was impressed. And my comments just barely touch on all that goes on in this book–the characters are so well developed, the plot has many twists and turns, and it’s an engrossing read. I think you’ll find it hard to put down.