Like most Ali Wong fans, I first discovered the comic via her Netflix stand-up specials. They’re very funny, obviously, but also really relatable and comforting. If you have kids, she makes you feel like it’s ok to have the messy mix of emotions, dirty clothes, an unexpected swearing at strangers that comes with the joyful burden of parenting. It’s quite the mix – being so dirty (her word) and warm at once.
The book is more of the same. Dear Girls is framed as Wong sharing her life story and life advice with her two daughters. She is passing on her wisdom and worldview to her kids while also fulfilling a book deal she got after her first Netflix special, she explains.
While the book is as funny as the stand-up specials, what I appreciated the most was learning more about Wong’s upbringing, past, and relationship with her husband/merch salesman. She explains how her grandfather came to America when he was eight years old and worked as a family’s servant (!). He grew up from that job to a wife and kids who all slept in one bed in an apartment while he slept on a pile of newspapers stacked on the floor. A lot of her work ethic is attributed to her family. She also attributes her bluntness to her family. In the long run I wonder whether her example of being boldly herself will be the thing she is known for.
Her husband writes the end of the book and appropriately gushes about what an amazing woman, comic, mother, and wife Wong is. The title of this review is from him, explaining how he sees his spouse’s larger role in America. He talks about what it’s like being the butt of jokes in a standup special, how the women in his family set an example about being a rock to support a famous person breaking ground in the Asian American community, and also drugs.
If Wong’s standup is not to your taste I wouldn’t recommend the book. It’s dirty. If you’re a fan of Wong then definitely read this to better appreciate the woman body rolling and farting after chasing vodka with milk (true story).