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Facing Poverty with a Rich Girl's Habits (Book Report Sample)


Study and review a memoir by Suki Kim, the renown New York Times writer.


Facing Poverty with a Rich Girl’s Habits
"Facing Poverty with a Rich Girl’s Habits" is a memoir by Suki Kim, a Korean-born American writer. The article tells the story of a young girl who is thrust from a life of opulence and grandeur in South Korea to poverty in Queens, New York. Suki’s thesis revolves around the cultural shock that she went through as she tried to adjust between different economic and social classes. The memoir paints a vivid picture of the tribulations faced by immigrants as they try to fit in the American society.
The writer describes Queens in the early 80’s as the "Wild West”. This description is given within her background of wealth and comfort in South Korea. Her new home in New York was "the upstairs of a two-family brownstone in Woodside. It was a crammed, ugly place…" (Kim, 2004). This description is contrasted with her former life in South Korea where she lived in "a hilltop mansion with an orchard and a pond and peacocks." (Kim, 2004). The writer explains that the family’s problems began when his father lost all his wealth, and was declared bankrupt. Bankruptcy, being a punishable crime in South Korea, forced them to leave their home.
Kim talks of the discrimination that she and other Korean immigrants experienced in Queens. At her tender age, she wonders why other children refer to her as "F.O.B, a derogatory term for immigrants that meant ‘fresh off the boat’" (Kim, 2004). The mystery is even deeper to her considering that she had flown into the country on a plane. At the age of 13, Kim is apparently too young to understand discrimination in its different forms. Over time, she learns the different racial identities, and their associated stereotypes.
The memoir can be classified as a short story that seeks to educate, and illuminate some societal problems. Suki’s dissociation from reality is highlighted by her failure to understand "ordinary" aspects of social life. She tells of her first bus ride at the age of 13, problems she faced attending to her homework without a governess, and the chaos at their New York home where they did not have house maids (Kim, 2004).
Suki faces a deep cultural shock when her family relocates to America. The difference between the school systems in Korea and America is intergalactic. In the United States, students pay little attention or respect to teachers in classroom. In contrast, students in South Korea had to bow when a teacher walked into a classroom. These differences in culture imprinted on the tender mind of a thirteen-year old girl.
Her interaction with fellow immigra...
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