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I Love Yous Are for White People: A Memoir Paperback – May 12, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 Original edition (May 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061543667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061543661
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #261,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Moving. . . . Anyone who wonders what obstacles an immigrant must overcome will be fascinated by this assimilation story; Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior complements it nicely. (Library Journal)

About the Author

Lac Su received a master's degree and Ph.D., A.B.D., in industrial-organizational psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. He is vice president of marketing for TalentSmart, a global think tank and management consulting firm, and he lives in San Diego with his wife and three kids.


More About the Author

PRAISE FOR THE MEMOIR:

"I Love Yous are for White People is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. A breath-taking journey about beauty and love."

- Dave Pelzer, author of A CHILD CALLED IT and recipient of the National Jefferson award

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"I LOVE YOUS ARE FOR WHITE PEOPLE by Lac Su is that rare combination of a miraculous yet true story that also happens to be masterfully written. The author's account of his family's nightmarish escape from Viet Nam, on foot, under heavy gunfire, and then by boat - told sparingly and unforgettably - sets the stage on which the rest of his story spools out with such a flow that you forget you are in the act of reading. Lac Su has told a brave story that is also a cautionary tale that should be read by many, showing us the way to how our youth - immigrant and otherwise - can come to know their true worth."

- Mim Eichler Rivas,
author of BEAUTIFUL JIM KEY,
coauthor of FINDING FISH with Antwone Fisher
and coauthor of THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS with Chris Gardner

---

"Lac Su's extraordinary story of exile - from a country, a family, and ultimately from himself - is both a heart-wrenching and immensely entertaining read. Lac is a master storyteller. Each scene was like a Wes Anderson film - quirky, moving, surprising - and the more I read the more I fell in love with this vulnerable and hurting, but also resourceful and self-sustaining, boy."

- Kerry Cohen, author of LOOSE GIRL: A Memoir of Promiscuity

---

"In I Love Yous are for White People, Lac Su has given us the ultimate in memoir. A remarkable story full of sweetness, pain, but most of all, hope."

- Tish Cohen, author of TOWN HOUSE and INSIDE OUT GIRL.

---

"I LOVE YOUS ARE FOR WHITE PEOPLE by Lac Su is that rare combination of a miraculous yet true story that also happens to be masterfully written. The author's account of his family's nightmarish escape from Viet Nam, on foot, under heavy gunfire, and then by boat - told sparingly and unforgettably - sets the stage on which the rest of his story spools out with such a flow that you forget you are in the act of reading. Lac Su has told a brave story that is also a cautionary tale that should be read by many, showing us the way to how our youth - immigrant and otherwise - can come to know their true worth."

- Victor Rivas Rivers, author of A PRIVATE FAMILY MATTER:A Memoir

---

"The riveting opening sets the stage as the family raced to a rickety boat to escape their homeland, dodging communist gunfire as they ran. The son of war refugees, the author came of age in the poor enclaves of Los Angeles with an emotional burden familiar to children of immigrants. Su offers a compelling narrative of immigrant life, cultural dissonance and the tug of familial obligation..."

- KIRKUS Reviews

---

"In this moving first memoir, Su recounts his family's escape from a difficult life in Vietnam for another in Los Angeles. Much of the City of Angels is the polar opposite of shimmering Hollywood--Su encounters abject poverty and gang culture. After looking for love in all the wrong places, he eventually establishes an identity in his adopted country. Anyone who wonders what obstacles an immigrant must overcome will be fascinated by this assimilation story; Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior complements it nicely."

-LIBRARY JOURNAL

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"Haunting, brutal . . . From molestation and abuse to gang banging and armed robbery, [Su] spares no detail in his memoir - and he doesn't regret sharing any of it."

-San Diego UNION-TRIBUNE

---

"Harrowing . . . a haunting memoir . . . with this debut, [Su is] ready for a much-deserved audience."

-San Francisco CHRONICLE

---

"In a recent memoir, Vietnamese American writer Lac Su directly addresses this topic, right in his book's title: I Love Yous Are for White People."

-StuffWhitePeopleDo.com

---

"This is a powerful book about immigrants finding the harsh realities of East L.A. instead of the American dream, and redoubling their efforts and getting it in the end."

-VANITY FAIR

---

"The best memoirs trace not only the writer's personal evolution, but also give the reader an insider's view into history. That's the case with Su's account of his family's escape from Vietnam and subsequent resettling in a gang-ridden pocket of Los Angeles. The dislocation cracks open Su's father's sense of his place in the world, and he takes his misery out on his tender-hearted son, who eventually turns to a gang for companionship. Heavy stuff, to be sure, but Su's delight in the telling detail -- whether it's the shiny 747 that whisks his family to their new life or his Vietnamese uncles' incredulity at not being able to take home stray California dogs for dinner pokes a few pinholes in the darkness."

-Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE
(Considered the book one of the best memoirs to read this summer)

---

"With each transparent penstroke, Su offers audiences an inside look at his exchange of shameful ashes for the beauty of hope and a new tomorrow. Simply, I Love Yous Are for White People is a story of redemption."

-NEWD Magazine

---

"What I love most about I Love Yous is not necessarily the tale itself -- I have read my share of stories about new Asian immigrants in America. What really moves me is Lac's vivid, powerful recollection of his early life, told with sensitivity, fearlessness, and a knowing nod to anyone who's been there too."

- Angry Asian Man of www.AngryAsianMan.com

---

"I recommend this book. Highly."

- bigWOWO of www.bigWOWO.com
(Rated it: Asian American Gold)

---

"Hands down, all biases aside, it was a great book. A must-read for anyone interested in the Southeast Asian American experience. I'm convinced I-Love-Yous are for White people."

- Minority Militant of MinorityMilitant.blogspot.com

---

"Plainly clear by now that I LOVE this book and have come to love the man who wrote it. I don't know what to tell you, except that you should totally check this book out."

- Jee of 8Asians.com

---

"I couldn't put [this] f..ker down. I'm already half way through this MF and I may have to finish it up tonight, and the way I read, lips wide open pronouncing every word - f... people - I'm not going to sleep tonight."

- Slanty of SlantEyeForTheRoundEye.com

---

"A memoir with a title as controversial as, "I Love Yous are for White People," one would expect it to be attention grabbing, and Lac Su does just that, by providing an interesting, but also inspirational story about his early life and the transition he makes from gang banging to pursuing a doctorial degree in psychology."

-- Kimle Nguyen of AZNRaps.com

---

"...what truly works about the book is that Su manages his narrative with neither self-pity nor self-aggrandizement. (That the memoir does not fairly drip with delusions of grandeur makes it, I have to say, unique in the slate of autobiographies by Vietnamese American men to date.) I liked the Lac I met in his pages. And it is a long-awaited treat finally to have a Vietnamese American memoir to recommend reading..."

- Hyphen Magazine

---

"Lac's story can be more accurately described as shock and awe - so shocking that it leaves the reader in awe about how something like this could happen to anyone."

- Asia Pacific Arts Magazine

---

"[The book] covered familiar territory with its thematic combination of filial piety, cultural identity, and urban gang violence. While I can understand the resistance towards these worn-out tropes, I think it's slightly shortsighted to consider this memoir solely as another entry into the slate of memoirs that deal with these tropes . . . perhaps there are geopolitical patterns and socioeconomic roadmaps in place that breed these heritages of violence . . . I think this topic of discussion is particularly relevant to today's international climate, considering the state of current U.S. foreign affairs . . ."

- Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry

---

As a young child, Lac was dragged through a harrowing escape from Communist Vietnam. With a price on his father's head in their home country, his family was forced to immigrate to the only place they were provided--seedy West Los Angeles circa 1979. Their high hopes for an American Dream were efficiently squashed by squalid living conditions and a cultural fabric that refused to thread them in. Lac's search for love and acceptance amidst poverty and psychological turmoil, created by a harsh and unrelenting father, turned his young life into a comedy of errors, and ultimately, led him to a dangerous gang experience that threatened to tear his life apart.

At the heart of this stirring memoir is the complicated relationship between Lac and his exacting father whose desperation to provide for his family--but to make them as tough-skinned as he is--informs Lac's entire existence.

Destined to be one of the year's most eye-opening memoirs, I LOVE YOUS ARE FOR WHITE PEOPLE, is Lac's account of finding a life of comfort and understanding while constantly made to feel like an outsider from every angle.

---

"The Making of a Memoir" is a short documentary produced/directed by Steve Nguyen.

Check it out here: http://vimeo.com/4994292


---

"So Hard (I Love Yous Are)" (a song dedicated to I Love Yous are for White People).

Listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzEFCqHSvx4

---

Lac can be reached at DearLac@gmail.com

Customer Reviews

Very raw, very emotional.
Kristy
The best part of the book, I think, is how it made me question the very word "love", a word I used to take for granted.
Kevin Allen
Lac Su starts his story as a very young boy who has a very vivid memory.
F. Zawaydeh

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

127 of 135 people found the following review helpful By Nick Tasler on May 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
What impressed me most about this book is how even as a middle-class, white, small town midwesterner with a cynical bent, I so deeply related to the plight of a Vietnamese refugee family plunked down into the ghetto of inner-city L.A.

Beginning with his family's harrowing escape from Communist Vietnam amidst a backdrop of gunfire and grenade explosion into an ill-equipped fishing boat that nearly sinks under heavy Pacific storms, the story truly begins with a bang. After being rescued at the very last moment by a reluctant Hong Kong military crew, Su and his family eventually make their way to the "Promiseland" in the ghettos of L.A.

With just the right amount of description--never revealing too much to put the reader at an all-knowing distance, nor too little to prevent you from truly feeling what Su felt in each moment--the writing made me feel as though I was the author's shadow. I saw what he saw and experienced what he experienced--from his adolescent stealing and subsequent selling of his parent's food stamps in order to feed a bullying peer's video game habit in the desperate hope of being accepted, all the way to the cold feeling of a gun barrel jammed into my cheek.

Perhaps the most interesting character is Su's father. He is a dejected shell of a man struggling with the loss of his position as a respect-commanding figure in Vietnam to a veritable Nobody in the U.S. Not knowing the language or the customs and without any formal education (he himself was orphaned and left to fend for himself as a hustler on the streets of Da Nang as an adolescent), he desperately clings to his dignity as we slowly and tragically watch it slip away.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Otaku Girl on October 22, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lac Su's heartfelt memoir, I Love Yous Are for White People, could not be more timely. This book is about the difficulties a first-generation Vietnamese-Chinese child who comes to America as a refugee faces. Lac Su is forthright about the obstacles: poverty, difficulty learning a new culture and language, violence, bullying at home and at school, the allure of gangs in order to fit in, the allure of crime for seemingly "easy" money. Yet this story is a triumph--despite the truly horrific experiences that Lac Su describes, he has grown into a well-adjusted, successful, loving father, husband, entrepreneur and writer. I wish this book were available in all American high schools. It could really help kids who feel they are alone because of their perceived differences, and it shows them that they can overcome the violence and misunderstanding that they may face in the present.
Some of the most heart-breaking passages involve the great violence that Lac Su's own father inflicts upon his son (and Lac's mother). Sufferers of domestic violence will find that Lac Su's memoir helps to give them a voice. (Also Lac is very honest about the sexual abuse he suffers due to a cousin.) However, the father is no two-dimensional boogeyman. Lac shows why he still loves his father, always loved his father--a man who worked hard for his family but did not understand how to express his frustrations at life and its obstacles except through violence.
The subject matter might make the book seem depressing, but in fact the plot moves along quickly and the tone is not at all self pitying. The author's empathy, ability to draw distinct portraits with his prose, and his basic humanity shine through.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Allen on January 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
The way Lac Su writes makes you feel as if you're sitting next to him at the bar and he's deftly rehashing some of the most poignant memories of his childhood. His writing is simple and entrancing, and harsh and delicate when it needs to be.

After reading chapter after chapter, I sometimes wondered how he made it out of His Life alive. The best part of the book, I think, is how it made me question the very word "love", a word I used to take for granted. I know I say it to certain people, but I never question what I really mean by it and what sort of connotations it carries for me. I rarely ask myself what does "love" mean to me.

This memoir adds to the stories that Vietnamese Americans of Lac's generation have at their fingertips, but are not yet ready to tell themselves. I'm glad he had the courage to put pen to paper.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Victorya on May 21, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
So, many years ago I was in a library and started reading "A Child Called It" just because it was there, having no priors of what it was about. That book messed me up so bad (leaving the library with it and lots of tears).
"I love yous" is very close to that.
I read "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom" recently and someone recommended this book to me. After finishing it I am still not sure why. This is not the same kind of book as "Tiger Mom" at all.

How is it not "Tiger Mom"?

The similarity is that both books are about immigrant parents using certain parenting techniques, wanting their children to be successful.

The differences?

The parent in "Tiger Mom" (Amy Chua) is a second-generation immigrant. She and her husband are Yale professors. Her dad (first gen immigrant) is also PhD educated and is a professor at Purdue (or similar). Her idea of success is like performing at Carnegie Hall when 14 or training with world-class violinist. She spends HOURS and HOURS each day personally coaching her children. And OK her parenting techniques (verbal abuse, no playdate, hours of practices) perhaps may likely be frowned-upon by western parents.

The parent in "I love yous" (Lac Su's dad) is a refugee who identifies himself as "boat people". He has no formal education, doesn't know English, is on disability and depressed. His idea of success is to go to ANY college, to perhaps own apartments to rent, and maybe, if you are really super-smart, to become a doctor. His parenting techniques are almost definitely not approved by humanity.
Pages after pages things keep happening to little Lac. Each chapter begins with adorable pictures of Lac or his sister. Then the text hits you with various kinds of unfortunate and terribly awful things.
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