The Woo-Woo | Lindsay Wong

One sentence:

How did this child make it out alive?

Three thoughts:

  • I would very much like to meet the Wongs. So much of what happens in this book seems like it has to be hyperbole… but then, maybe not?
  • I love books that take place in locations that I’ve been to. I loved looking up the places in the book on Google Maps.
  • I kinda feel like memoirs should have to come with pictures. I want to see pictures of the family!


  • Characters: I feel like an asshole rating ‘characters’ in a memoir, because they’re real people and that’s just gross. So I’ll address the people in the book by discussing the way the author writes them. Every character is a fleshed out, whole human being. Almost every person in this book has a severe mental illness, yet no character is relegated to only their mental illness. Despite the father’s emotional abusiveness, you can (sometimes kind of) tell that in a messed up, he cares for his family and is just doing the best he can. Similarly, while the focus on the mother is mainly on her mental illness, it didn’t seem exploitative.
  • Plot: Again, judging the ‘plot’ of a memoir is kind of pointless. I don’t know how this girl survived the life that she had. There were layers upon layers of dysfunction, and yet somehow she seems to have come out of it fairly unscathed – or at least, she has recovered well.
  • Setting: I loved reading about Pot Mountain and Lindsay’s excursions into Vancouver and places that I’ve actually been.
  • Style/Voice: The author did a good job of portraying the emotions she felt as a child, and the memoir is written with a very disengaged tone. It’s almost as if she’s telling someone else’s story, and that seemed to be the way that she was able to function as a child and a young adult – by disassociating. It’s not surprising that she probably had to do a great deal of that in order to go back and relive these experiences.
  • Theme: The book is a really sad look at mental illness and how it can take over your life. It’s also an amazing chronicle of an immigrant experience and the differences between the immigrant parents and the first-generation Canadian children, and how Western influences affect familial relationships.

Overall Rating: 5.0

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