Casey Han's years at Princeton have given her 'a refined diction, an enviable golf handicap, wealthy friends, a popular white boyfriend, and a magna cum laude degree in economics. But no job, and a number of bad habits...' The elder daughter of working-class Korean immigrants who run a dry cleaning shop in Manhattan, Casey inhabits a New York, a world away from that of her parents. Ambitious, spirited and obstinate, she's developed a taste for a lifestyle - and a passion for beautiful hats and expensive tailoring - she hasn ...
Casey Han's years at Princeton have given her 'a refined diction, an enviable golf handicap, wealthy friends, a popular white boyfriend, and a magna cum laude degree in economics. But no job, and a number of bad habits...' The elder daughter of working-class Korean immigrants who run a dry cleaning shop in Manhattan, Casey inhabits a New York, a world away from that of her parents. Ambitious, spirited and obstinate, she's developed a taste for a lifestyle - and a passion for beautiful hats and expensive tailoring - she hasn't the means to sustain. And between the culture to which her family so fiercely cling and the life she aspires to, Casey must confront her own identity, the meaning of wealth, and what she really wants from her future. As Casey navigates an uneven course of small triumphs and spectacular failures, a clash of values, ideals and ambitions plays out against the colourful backdrop of New York society, it's many layers, shades and divides.
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A new twist on the young-woman-in-the-big-city theme, Free Food is an enoyable novel about Casey Han and her search for love and fulfillment in 1990s New York. The characters are well-realized, and there is plenty of guilty pleasure in the accounts of clothing, apartments, food and other details of living and striving in NYC. Lee writes from multiple points of view which serves to highlight issues of class and race. The writing itself is good, with the exeption of dialogue, which tends to be stiff. A promising debut, nevertheless.
Jul 11, 2007
Casey Han is a Princeton graduate, yet grew up in Queens with her financially-struggling Korean parents. While she feels she belongs in the realm of the rich and famous (or at least rich) she has no job or means of supporting herself, leading to some pretty nasty difficulties once her credit card limit runs out. Although there are some other plot threads including romance between boyfriends (should Casey follow her heart's desire and date a white male, *gasp*, while also spurning her parents' wishes, or should she follow in the footsteps of her best friend, Ella, and stick to wealthy Korean boys?) this book basically consists of the ups and downs of Casey's financial predicaments. If there's a conflict in Free Food for Millionaires, it most probably will be monetary, however family drama within the Han household did make for some unexpected reading. Although this book starts out with Casey as the main character it quickly expands, including perspectives from Leah Han (Casey's mother), Ella (Casey's best friend), Tina (Casey's sister) and other charecters. What begins as a recent Princeton grad moaning about her financial inadequacies quickly segues to real-life difficulties, reminding us that the real world is more than the facade led by monied individuals. If only it weren't 576 pages, and it might make for a more human-friendly read.
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