Score: 91/100 (9.1 out of 10)
Las Crosses is an exciting and interesting travel memoir by Apple An, a Chinese-American immigrant who courageously came to the United States.
Apple came armed with a limited grasp of the English language, a suitcase largely filled with a Goh board as a gift, tentative housing with a mentor, and the promise of a better life full of new opportunities and experiences. Despite these obstacles, she bravely confronted this new future in a foreign land that she'd previously only heard about and seen in movies.
Interestingly, this is the second or third book we've read in the past year that concerns immigrating from China to the United States. So, because of that, we have a lot of content to cross-examine and compare with Apple's stated thoughts and experiences. With that said, this book still provided a very unique and enlightening reading experience.
No two experiences are exactly alike.
No two Chinese-Americans are going to feel the same way, believe the same things, and have the same goals. Individuals differ regardless of race or nationality.
So, it was especially interesting to hear Apple compare and contrast her views on Chinese and American cultures. She immediately notices how strange it is that Americans hold pot lucks and how they sometimes don't serve the food to guests, allowing them to choose their own foods—a “buffet” style. She also notices that Americans and Americanized people (even former Chinese citizens) become accustomed to expecting reimbursement and payment for what she perceives as free favors. For example, a friend offers her the use of their room over the summer but expects to be paid a month's rent, something she finds strange, almost like Indian giving. The same occurs when she's given a $400 “loan” which she initially receives as a gift.
Let's face it, this is a great, exciting country, but it can also be kinda weird.
There's something uniquely personable and transparent with this book that we really appreciated. Apple shares her good experiences as well as her not so good (and even embarrassing ones). This is also not a Cinderella story with a picture-perfect ending. The narrative of this book can sometimes be harsh, and life itself can be harsh.
There are several parts of this book that really stood out to us for various reasons:
Another thing that was really interesting thing about this book is that it subtly wove parts of Communist China's events into the narrative. For example, you learn that Den Xiaoping had begun allowing American movies like Rambo and Rocky to be shown in China following the Cultural Revolution and Mao's loss of influence. It is really interesting to see Chinese and American history play out side by side.
Check this out on Amazon!