Pringles Potato Chips, Nestle's Drumstick Cones, the Candy Necklace

In 1975, when Bich Minh Nguyen was still an infant, her father suddenly swept her and her sister out of Vietnam, not even leaving behind a note for her mother. They settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her grandmother and uncles. As she grew out of babyhood, Bich (pronounced Bit) began to crave the food items noted above plus many others. She loved McDonalds, Burger King, Hostess cupcakes and Toll House cookies. Food was an important part of her life and her family's. She named her memoir Stealing Buddha's Dinner.

Soon Bich's father married a Latina named Rosa, who had a daughter named Crissy. That meant that Bich had to deal with Rosa's Latin culture, her new American culture, and her native Vietnamese culture all at the same time. Like many girls her age, she tried to fit in with the most popular girls, the ones with blond hair, blue eyes and perfect teeth. Fitting in was often a frustrating challenge for her.

What makes her memoir special is that, while we are reading about Bich's efforts to fit in, we can reminisce about foods, movies, television shows, and books that were popular in the eighties. She loved them all. She even enjoyed watching soap operas with her grandmother. Was Bich harmed by any of her excesses? You wouldn't think so. You see, she eventually became a professor of literature and creative writing at Purdue University. Her first novel, Short Girls is coming out this summer.