Review: Free Food for Millionnaires

Free Food for Millionaires, by Min Jin Lee
(Warner, July 2007. Hardcover, 576 pages)

I found this book hard to put aside, despite several quibbles with the way it was plotted and written. Free Food for Millionaires is the story of Casey Han, an American born Korean woman who finds herself caught between worlds – those of her parents and her peers. The disparity between cultures is not the only thing Casey struggles with. As the child of apparently poor immigrants, she also feels apart from the entitled men and women who make up the majority of her friends.

From her first love to what might be her true love, we follow Casey on a journey of discovery that includes startling insights into the lives of her friends and family. She’s not the only lost soul in the book. Far from it. In fact, I think the only people in the book who truly know who they are Joseph and Joseph, Casey’s father and the old bookseller she befriends later on. Probably no coincidence they share the same first name.

The ending is ambiguous, but I think I expected that. As to my quibbles, the plot did wander now and again. I understood why some threads were included but didn’t necessarily feel all were important. Some simply drove home the same point, over and again. The most distracting aspect of the novel, however, was the constantly revolving point of view. More than once I had to reread a paragraph or a page to clarify just whose thoughts I was hearing. It could be annoying in particularly emotional scenes as well, to skip from one head to the other, almost mid thought.

Still, it’s a good book; a thought provoking look at New York, being twenty-something, being in love and being different.

(Read in March 2012. Review originally posted on Goodreads)

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