Growing up Asian American – Stories of Childhood, Adolescence and Coming of Age in America from the 1800s to the 1990s, edited and with an introduction by Maria Hong, is a collection of 33 pieces, both fiction and non-fiction, about the Asian American immigrant experience in America. The stories share many themes — concerns about parents’ expectations, awareness that parents don’t quite fit in or don’t quite get what is going on. and then the writers’ own concerns about how to get along. A number of the writers feel considerable stress between their families’ insular worlds and their own experiences in American schools and communities. There are also cringing moments when the writers and their families face discrimination, both blatant and (hopefully) unintended. These stories don’t have many happy, cohesive families. Instead, most of the writers come across as loners who have been thrust into an alien environment without the proper tools for survival.
This book is highly recommended. The sheer volume (33) of the pieces underscores the fact that, regardless of immigration status or economic circumstances, it can be really tough to move to this country and that it can be uniquely traumatic for children.