Cover Image: I'm Laughing Because I'm Crying

I'm Laughing Because I'm Crying

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Member Reviews

Arriving at an author through their dark, chaotic, amazing instagram presence is not the usual course of events for me, but I was extremely excited to come to know Youngmi Mayer through a different medium. Mayer alludes to her complex relationship with her parents with whom she shares a deep love but also deep trauma. Her unsparing discussion of topics like parental abuse in many forms as well as other struggles in her adult life lead to deep revelations about the way that she has claimed her selfhood. The book opens with the origins of Mayer's mother's family and the ways that colonialism, postwar poverty and Korean culture in general permeate every ounce of her existence. Parts of her family story were told so compellingly, I remember feeling like I wanted them to be a novel in and of themselves. Mayer's unpretentious and honest commentary on her family story really pulls the reader in and out of these powerful moments in a way that is very readable. As Mayer chronicles the difficult relationship she had with her parents and how shame and poverty impacted her upbringing, she is able to examine it with a lens of wider understanding. Throughout the book she also makes really insightful observations about the way race, class and identity work. Mayer touches on tenants of buddhism and Korean culture sometimes delving into deeply philosophical territory when discussing how individuals relate to themselves, their families and their societies, but also shares incredibly specific stories that are at turns humorous, then painful, but almost always both. I'm Laughing Because I'm Crying is funny, smart, touching, sad, deeply personal but also in many ways, universal. It embodies the notion of Laughing and Crying as a way to understand the simultaneous joy and pain we experience in our lives. So metal.

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In this memoir, Youngmi jokes through the retelling of her childhood as an offbeat biracial kid in Saipan. She jokes through her difficult adolescence where she must parent her own a mother who married a man simply because he looked like white Jesus. She also discusses her family’s experience through the last century of colonialism and war in Korea, while reflecting how years later, their wounds affect her adult life in New York City.

One of the biggest overarching themes I picked up from the book was this theme of duality: being praised for losing weight by friends and family, but being criticized for having an ego around “being skinny” to be a model; not being fully seen as both Korean and White, but also being seen as only Korean or only White depending on her audience; wanting to blend in among her peers while also being forced to stand out whenever her White father was around. Mayer beautifully blends Korean history with her own experience to give us some education and much needed context.

This was my first Advanced Reader Copy from @NetGally – thank you for the copy and thank you to Little, Brown & Company (@littlebrown).

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I received a copy of the book "I'm Laughing Because I'm Crying" from NetGalley. Youngmi Mayer is a standup comedian. She writes of growing up in Korea and Saipan. She writes of being a bi-racial girl. with a Caucasian father and Korean mother. Although she writes of her life with a sense of humor she had a very tough childhood. Her mother could be very blunt and cruel { never having anything positive to say} Kids at school could be mean to her. She moved many times over her childhood. in her late teens she ended up in America. She eventually became a stand up comic using her difficult childhood and adult years in her act. Even though she wrote this book with humor it is sometimes tough for me to read feeling sympathy for her. The title of the Book comes from a quote she learned in life that you can be "laughing because you are crying" when a person can be heartbreaking but laughing at the same time. A pretty good read. like I mentioned sometimes hard to read about the obstacles that Youngmi Mayer had in life.

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