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BOOK REVIEWS


FOB-BULOUS MOMS. My Mom Is a Fob: Earnest Advice in Broken English from Your Asian-American Mom, a new book by Teresa Wu and Serena Wu, includes humorous messages sent with unconditional love by their immigrant mothers. The book is based on the duoís hit blog, <www.mymomisafob.com>.

From The Asian Reporter, V21, #05 (March 7, 2011), page 15.

In honor of our fob mothers

My Mom Is a Fob: Earnest Advice in Broken English from Your Asian-American Mom

By Teresa Wu and Serena Wu

Perigee Books, 2011

Paperback, 204 pages, $12.95

By Rose Barcellano

The Asian Reporter

If your mom is a FOB like mine, you will want to read this book. FOB is an acronym for "fresh off the boat," and blog founders Teresa Wu and Serena Wu do a wonderful job of redefining the once derogatory term, empowering it with love and appreciation for our Asian mothers.

In 2008, internet-savvy college students Teresa and Serena created a blog highlighting their own mothersí humorous e-mails, texts, and online chats. The messages, full of innate wisdom and cultural misunderstandings, struck a chord within the Asian-American community, prompting thousands of readers to post their own messages and photos. The book My Mom Is a Fob is like a tribute to the blog site, a compilation of favorite entries after two years of submissions.

In the introduction, Teresa Wu writes, "In calling our mothers Ďfobs,í weíre not trying to make fun of our moms ó we think theyíre freakiní adorable, and we want to showcase those precious moments to a community of Asian-American kids who know exactly what itís like to be on the receiving end of that amazing, unconditional, and sometimes misspelled love." She provides evidence of this love via her motherís e-mails and online chats. Teresa Wu was at college in San Diego when they had this conversation:

Mom: Dear Mei,

Teresa: whatís up

Mom: I got you credit card statement itís 197.78, Oh a lot

Teresa: sorry...I had expensive books this quarter

Mom: also you eat a lot too

Teresa: sorry

Teresa: will eat less

A chapter on fashion offers photos of sun-conscious mothers displaying a fearless sense of practicality in their U.V.-protective wear. Another chapter shows the often unintended humor that results when our mothers courageously attempt to communicate using new forms of technology. And, of course, there has to be a chapter on how Asian mothers are not afraid to speak the truth, no matter how painful. The following dinner exchange took place soon after the mother notices her daughterís acne:

Me: What is it, Ma?

Mom: After seeing your face, I donít have appetite no more.

Asian moms strive to ensure their childrenís success in America, which means embracing a language different from their own native tongue. The chapter on communication barriers shows the comical misinterpretations of English as the second language. In this phone call, a mother is trying to pay her credit card bill:

Credit card representative: OK, can I have your reference number?

Mom (in a thick Filipino accent): OK, yes. Itís 221, B as in boy, A as in apple, 743, D as in Dog, and Q, Q as in Cuba.

The topic of food and health captures how funny our moms can unintentionally be as they offer us bizarre remedies to improve our lives. And as every Asian adolescent can probably attest to, an Asian motherís love knows no boundaries, especially when it comes to issues of privacy. In the chapter on love, a mother admits to opening her daughterís mail then proceeds to read the negative results of her STD tests, warning her in the end to be careful.

Serena Wu writes, "In a way, the overarching story to be told is that of our immigrant parents raising us, the first generation, in a world apart from theirs where cultural and language barriers make day-to-day communication a challenge and mutual understanding a lifelong learning process. My momís efforts do not go unnoticed nor do I feel alone in my experiences."

I loved this book for reminding me of exactly why I love my fobby mother and for connecting me to so many others who feel the same way. The blog also continues to share the experiences of Asian Americans everywhere, prompting the inevitable creation of a second blog, My Dad Is a Fob.

To buy me, visit these retailers:

Powell's Books

  Amazon