This enthralling, funny-sad memoir, so exactingly observed by author Bich Minh Nguyen, chronicles her coming of age in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as a shrimpy, owlish immigrant child of the '80s. Bich's moody father, the haunted architect of his family's flight from Saigon in 1975, is a "Vietnamese Arthur Murray". He toils at a feather factory, coming home every night with down in his hair. Smart-alecky Rosa is Bich's decent stepmother, a second-generation Mexican-American who mortifies her kids by snapping off threats like, "you're cruisin' for a bruisin'". Bich's droopy home perms, her longing for a mother who bakes banana bread, and her phase of speaking in a British schoolmarm's accent (she is a fool for Mary Poppins ) all translate into a compulsive search for identity. But only her grandmother Noi, a gentle, silvery Buddhist who quietly stirs marrowy pots of pho feathered with cilantro in the kitchen, is present enough to listen. Even when the sound limping out is a drippy Vietnamese new wave cover band committed to Depeche Mode. Stealing Buddha's Dinner is a tenderhearted homage to the musty dried fish and sandalwood smells of Asian grocery stores, and to moon boots spackled with snow. Narrator Alice H. Kennedy is an insightful, unshowy reader with a nimble voice as clear as jasmine tea. Even this reverent, prayerful reading "i loved to strip away the pebbled skin of a lychee and pop the translucent eyeball into my mouth" shines the light back on Bich. Kennedy, with her Vietnamese-accented English, may or may not share Bich's "immigrant's dilemma", i don't know. Maybe in the end, she just gets, as Bich does, that the outcome of life is not always judged by what you pack for lunch. Nita Rao
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Good book, ok narration
glad there is an audio book!