Dear Mrs. Tan,
It's Thanksgiving afternoon; five-spice aroma fills the room. Soon the adults and children bundled up in gaudily colored coats will arrive and silence will be a foreign concept. My mother slaves away in the kitchen evincing her mastery cooking skills through various dishes. She glides at ease from the cutting board to the stove to the cabinet, sliced cured beef in one hand and lightly seasoned fish in the other. "Ding!" Just in time for the Peking duck to come out of the oven, golden and ready to be laced with flavoring sauce. This is a holiday routine for my mother. She is a hard worker, a good friend, a wonderful wife, and most of all, a loving mother; but I have not always understood nor appreciated her and the values she hopes to pass down to me.
Just a year ago, I picked up your book during my monthly visit to Barnes and Noble and met my other self, Jing-mei Woo, or June (her American name).
She was everything I am, a confused and out of place little girl in search of her multicultural identity. Being raised in a Chinese household and living in a modern American society, we both spent our childhoods trying to escape our Chinese identities. We believed that her Chinese identity is only that surfaces our physical features. As I read on, I realized that this feigned all-American identity is incomplete and became interested in my Chinese heritage as Jing-mei discovered hers. I found an identity embodying the two cultures and appreciated the complexity and uniqueness.
Jing-mei and I also perceived our mothers' perpetual criticisms to be a lack of affection. We failed to see that behind the criticisms were the utterances of love; behind the high-held expectations was the tremendous faith...