Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links, which provide a small commission to me at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and places I have tried and loved. Thank you for your support!
Ali Wong’s Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets and Advice for Living Your Best Life is a nonfiction book dedicated to her daughters. It’s filled with personal stories and advice (which she intends for the girls to read once they’re 21) about growing up, travel, pregnancy, childbirth, family, and career. The comedian’s first book is simultaneously hilarious, touching, and raunchy, all served up with brutal honesty.
Review: Plot, Pros and Cons
In the preface to Dear Girls, Wong explains that after her father passed away, she found a note from him that began with “Dear Alexandra.” She explains that in the letter he expressed his love and gratitude to her, but she wished he had shared more about himself. This letter serves as the inspiration for her book.
Throughout Dear Girls, Ali Wong shares stories from her life on a variety of topics. She discusses her relationship with her husband, pregnancy and childbirth, motherhood, living abroad, dating, her family, and her career as a writer, actress, and stand-up comedian.
As the book is addressed to her daughters, pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood are a main theme. Wong shares her experiences with her miscarriage and pregnancy complications, as well as her birth experience (and hospital tips for labor and delivery!). While the subject matter is serious, Wong brings amusing commentary to her stories that will make you laugh, whether or not you’re a mom.
Traveling and living abroad are also common themes throughout the book. Wong did a program in Hawaii, studied abroad in Vietnam, and had quite a trip in Tulum with her husband, all of which were very transformative experiences. From body hair to unique dishes, these tales are full of interesting tidbits and hilarity.
The stories from throughout Wong’s life are plenty amusing, even when she’s writing about something serious. All the different topics and experiences provide plenty of material for your book club to discuss!
Now, here we have some topics and questions to get your discussion rolling:
- Ali Wong shares her experiences dealing with miscarriage and pregnancy complications. She discusses the questions people would ask, which often suggest that thee things that happened were somehow her fault. Wong writes, “As if I didn’t feel enough shame, these questions only made me feel worse… I felt like people were judging my body to be fundamentally flawed.” Discuss how women are treated while pregnant. If you’ve ever experienced anything similar to Wong that you’re comfortable discussing, how did you feel?
- While describing her birth experience, Wong writes, “It was the first lesson in having kids: You cannot control anything.” If you have children of your own or care for children, share some experiences that illustrate this point.
- When she was recovering from delivering her daughter via c-section, Wong shares she was feeling guilty about taking Vicodin while breastfeeding and so she asked her pharmacist friend about it. Wong shares, “Her response to my questions about the safety of it was: ‘You have suffered enough.’ That became my mantra for motherhood there on out. You have suffered enough. If you can make it easier, make it easier, and don’t feel guilty about it.” Discuss.
- Wong discusses her experiences studying in Hawaii and abroad were such valuable experiences. Have you lived or studied abroad? What was your experience like?
- The book includes many stories about Wong’s relationship with her husband, such as how they met, their time dating, and their marriage. What stood out to your about their relationship? What makes their marriage work? Share some stories about your relationship with your significant other or your dating life if you’re comfortable doing so.
- In the chapter titled “My Least Favorite Question,” Wong explains: “A question I always get asked is: ‘What is it like being an Asian American woman in Hollywood?’ I hate this question almost as much as I hate ‘What’s it like to be a female in comedy?’ because nobody wants their identity and defining characteristics reduced to just race and gender.” Discuss.
- Wong and her husband chose to have a lower-key wedding — the ceremony was at city hall in San Francisco and they celebrated with family at a restaurant. Did you have or do you want a big wedding, small wedding, or none at all? Why?
- In the last chapter of the book, “Wild Child,” Wong writes about how she was an “awful teenager” and that it strained her relationship with her mother. Now that she is a mother, Wong shares her worries that all that bad behavior will come back to haunt her. What were you like as a teenager? Do you have similar worries?
- Dear Girls is full of personal anecdotes on a variety of topics, including sex. Would you share similar stories with your children? Why or why not?
- The book’s Afterword is written by Wong’s husband, Justin Hakuta. The section provides some of his thoughts and feelings on his relationship with his wife and fatherhood. He writes, “Everything in my life, including falling in love with your mother, led me to me greatest job yet: being your father.” Discuss this and further sentiments expressed in the Afterword.
Overall, Dear Girls is a great option for your book club. Ali Wong provides interesting stories about her own life peppered with hilarious commentary. The topical subject matter provides plenty of material to keep your book club chatting.
Have you read Dear Girls? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!
Happy reading! Cheers!