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As you might imagine, moving from a small town in Malaysia to a large city in Australia is quite a radical change; especially for a teenager. As he first arrives, he barely knows where he is going to stay for the first few days, lugging around his mountain of food his family packed for him. He does eventually find a place to stay and starts school. His first real challenge is understanding the Aussie accent. In Malaysia, they learn English very literally and in an English/American accent. The Aussie accent, along with slang, made it very hard for him to understand. After a few weeks, he eventually started to pick it up.
He had a whole experience in university. From learning to work as a waiter to living in a dorm to meeting his first girlfriend, who was a "devil" to his father (all white women were). As he grew, he became more and more successful in business, as well as music, where he was an extremely accomplished singer and very popular among the night crowd. Through music, he met his first wife, Nelly. He was very happy with her and had three children. However, their marriage started to fall apart. Even though he became more and more successful and was living "the life", his life seemed to get worse and worse. She went binge partying every night, and blamed everything on him during the day. Eventually, he caught her cheating on him, and that absolutely crushed him. It sent him into an abyss he struggled and struggled to get out.
Overall, I thought the book was well composed. It was funny and quirky in some parts, and very sad and emotional and others. I also really liked how he was telling his story from university, then filling in blanks you didn't know about him previously in stories from his childhood to help you understand previous parts and the parts to come. An example is himself playing and singing music to help himself financially. He then goes back to his early teen years where he had a "boy band" of sorts and his adventures in that. The only real ding I found in this book was punctuation. I found lots of extra comma, a missing comma here and there, and the occasional run-on sentence. However, besides that, I found it to be an excellent book.
I would give this book 4 stars out of 4, because I really could not put this down. I devoured it in one sitting, and it really was an excellent read. The action was very real, and non-stop. I was impressed one person could go through what Mr. Huang has gone through. It ranks as one of my favorite memoirs I've read in a very long time. It gives very nice culture background into Malaysian culture as well as Australian. The author believes his book is not a "literary masterpiece". While it may not be, it still is a very very good book, and I highly recommend it to anyone.
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