Review by Booklist Review
Constance Wu has always felt big feelings, which made life easier and harder in equal measure as she grew up. Acting gave her the ability to channel this abundance of emotion into social acceptance, via community theater; into a path forward, through performing-arts higher ed; and finally into a career, starring in projects like Fresh Off the Boat and Crazy Rich Asians. Wu writes much about her childhood as a bookworm with a wild imagination, and those early instincts translate into keen essay sensibilities as she wisely aligns poignant childhood anecdotes with new adult lessons. She brings the Richmond, Virginia, suburbs of her childhood to life in vivid detail; readers will leave the book tasting the bread Wu baked at her first job, and feeling the backstage excitement at a high-school theater audition. The author paints the characters and sites of her adulthood just as dexterously: New York City, Los Angeles, international movie sets, and visits back home. Generously sharing experiences of love, family, harassment, discrimination, and growth, Wu writes about others and her past self with the utmost respect. Her memoir is a gorgeously relatable portrait of a life guided by passion and art.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Wu, star of Crazy Rich Asians, dazzles in this essay collection about love, family, and her hard-won path to Hollywood success. The daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, Wu was discouraged from calling attention to herself while growing up in 1980s Richmond, Va., but found an outlet in acting. Despite "assimilating very well" in her predominantly white hometown (doing "all the normal American stuff like cheerleading and... sleepover parties"), Wu couldn't ignore the discomfort she felt when watching Asian characters on screen. As she writes in "Welcome to Jurassic Park": "My face always burned with shame, especially if that character spoke with an Asian accent." It wasn't until 2015, when Wu took a starring role in the sitcom Fresh off the Boat as Jessica, a Taiwanese immigrant and mother to three Asian American children, that her mindset changed: "Off the Boat wasn't race-neutral. It was race-relevant." While the show was groundbreaking--centering an Asian American family's story on American television for the first time in more than 20 years--Wu reveals in "You Do What I Say" that it didn't protect her from the harassment of a producer, or from later having to fight for filming dates that worked for her with Crazy Rich Asians. Even still, Wu remained undeterred, and it's that dogged determination that radiates from every page. Fans will feel lucky to be in on the action. (Oct.)
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Review by Library Journal Review
In this debut memoir, actress Wu (Fresh Off the Boat; Crazy Rich Asians) paints an extraordinarily honest portrait of her life and career. Wu candidly details experiences from her life during different stages: from her suburban upbringing in Virginia, to breaking into acting in New York City, to skyrocketing to fame and beyond. She speaks of being a bold, extroverted woman full of emotions, whose attempts to not "make a scene" have often been to her detriment. As she states, "My emotions have always been larger than my body." Wu grapples with her view of herself, the relationships that have shaped her life, and her place as an Asian American actress, bringing much-needed representation through her roles. She confronts past traumas and discusses how she has found forgiveness. Wu's narration is genuine, lively, and animated, while her honesty and humility create an intimate listening experience. In fact, listeners may feel that they are catching up with an old friend over coffee. VERDICT This engaging memoir will appeal to listeners interested in entertainment-industry memoirs and more specifically, Asian American women navigating Hollywood and fame.--Meghan Bouffard
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
An acclaimed actor "taught not to make scenes" as a young girl explores how "scenes" from her life have made her into the woman she became. In her first book, Wu, best known for her roles in the TV show Fresh Off the Boat and the film Crazy Rich Asians, reflects on the experiences that transformed her from a shy girl into a self-confident performer able to create meaningful, stereotype-defying characters. The American-born daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, Wu, who dreamed of a professional acting career, assimilated well into the conservative White Virginia suburb where she grew up. Yet the Asian actors she saw often made her want to cringe for the way they brought attention to the "Asian-ness" Wu could not entirely accept in herself. It wasn't until she began studying drama in college that the author began to dig within herself to find what could truly make her characters come alive. In her personal life, Wu deepened her emotional maturity with lessons in love while also experiencing the turmoil caused by a traumatic sexual experience. "I didn't feel attacked or assaulted or coerced and I certainly didn't feel raped," she writes. "Strange as it sounds, the word 'rape' didn't even occur to me." After moving to California for her acting career, she began to educate herself on rape culture. Her awakening, however, could not protect her from Hollywood anti-feminism or her own desire to be a "cool girl" who could brush off casual misogyny. As she gained professional visibility and acclaim, Wu found herself at the mercy of an Asian American producer who intimidated and sexually harassed her. The essays--parts of which she cleverly imagines as stage scenes--are intimate and rich in emotional detail. However, the time shifts and occasional lack of thematic connection sometimes limit the impact of the author's message. Disjointed in spots but thoughtful and often inspirational. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.