Stay True

A Memoir

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Pub Date 27 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 11 Oct 2022

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PULITZER PRIZE WINNERNEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER A gripping memoir on friendship, grief, the search for self, and the solace that can be found through art, by the New Yorker staff writer Hua Hsu

“This book is exquisite and excruciating and I will be thinking about it for years and years to come.” Rachel Kushner, New York Times bestselling author of The Flamethrowers and The Mars Room

In the eyes of eighteen-year-old Hua Hsu, the problem with Ken—with his passion for Dave Matthews, Abercrombie & Fitch, and his fraternity—is that he is exactly like everyone else. Ken, whose Japanese American family has been in the United States for generations, is mainstream; for Hua, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, who makes ’zines and haunts Bay Area record shops, Ken represents all that he defines himself in opposition to. The only thing Hua and Ken have in common is that, however they engage with it, American culture doesn’t seem to have a place for either of them.

But despite his first impressions, Hua and Ken become friends, a friendship built on late-night conversations over cigarettes, long drives along the California coast, and the successes and humiliations of everyday college life. And then violently, senselessly, Ken is gone, killed in a carjacking, not even three years after the day they first meet.

Determined to hold on to all that was left of one of his closest friends—his memories—Hua turned to writing. Stay True is the book he’s been working on ever since. A coming-of-age story that details both the ordinary and extraordinary, Stay True is a bracing memoir about growing up, and about moving through the world in search of meaning and belonging.
PULITZER PRIZE WINNERNEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER A gripping memoir on friendship, grief, the search for self, and the solace that can be found through art, by the New Yorker staff writer Hua Hsu


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ISBN 9780385547772
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Average rating from 73 members

Featured Reviews

Thanks to Netgalley and Doubleday for the ebook. When the author, a New Yorker staff writer, was entering Berkeley, he was the son of Taiwanese immigrants who bought all his odd clothes at thrift stores, created his own ‘zines and liked indie rock bands, until they became popular. He somehow becomes great friends with Ken, whose Japanese American family has been in the US for generations. Ken listens to popular music, dresses like a typical frat boy, which he is. The two find common ground and become very close, until Ken is killed in a senseless and extreme violent way. His death haunts the author through the rest of his time at Berkeley. At graduate school in Harvard, the author finally finds a way to come to terms with this loss. A vivid story about a time and place and a sweet friendship.

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This memoir was such a beautiful testament to the power of friendship and how key they are to identity formation and exploration. It was so descriptive, insightful and beautiful and captured how important the most fleeting relationships can be and how much meaning can be gleaned from friendships with even the most tragic endings.

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This is a gripping memoir that covers Hsa's journey of self discovery during the formative years of college and graduate school. While much of this journey revolves around the senseless murder of a close friend, just as much is tied to his developing sense of his own cultural narrative.

Initially I struggled to get into the story, given both the slow pace of the narrator and the large amount of subjects being touched upon; yet I am so glad I continued to read. Once Hsa got to college I found myself getting pulled into his journey. Being of a somewhat similar age I discovered I resonated deeply with many of his internal monologues.

This turned out to be a beautiful journey Hsa shared with us, and one I strongly recommend to anyone who has ever questioned their own sense of self and place in the world. Very thought provoking in all the right ways!

I would like to thank both NetGalley and Doubleday Books for the opportunity to read Hua Hsa's "Stay True" in exchange for an honest review.

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This is the first ARC I've read that I intend to buy; in fact, I don't know how I'll have the patience to wait the six weeks until it's released. There were so many truths, beautifully articulated, that I wanted to underline. This is a story of friendship, grief, nostalgia, music, interrogations of "coolness," college life, and so much more. I have a feeling you can pick up this book every few years and get something different from it--find a new passage that resonates.

Five stars. My favorite book of the year thus far.

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Memoir by a New Yorker staff writer that’s very evocative of college life at Berkeley. It captures the quirks, good and bad, of that area of the Bay in the 90s. The author is the son of Taiwanese immigrants whose parents remain rooted in Taiwan. He’s befriended by Ken, a fellow student from a Japanese American family long established in the US. They are seeming opposites who end up becoming close. This is a finely observed account of friendship, college life, coming of age, and the Asian American community. There are wonderful details such as the number of songs it takes to drive for 24/7 donuts, the attitudes of different generations and groups, college life, and more. Music runs through the entire book like a soundtrack to what becomes a sad reflection on loss.
Thanks to Netgalley and Doubleday for the eARC

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I loved this memoir. The book chronicles the college years of a Taiwanese student, his awkwardness, his friends, his relationships with women and his academic adventures. Something tragic happens to the protagonist and we get to see how he struggles to make sense of this event. I would recommend this to anyone who like memoirs or coming of age stories.

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