“As a lot of us do, I’d grown up acutely aware how much I owed to being American. My insouciance about the future. My unhindered education. The chutzpah to go, as a single woman, anywhere that I pleased.”
In this very interesting non-fiction exploration/memoir, Kolker examines 8 behaviours and cultural concepts brought to the USA by immigrant groups, and how these behaviours lead to far higher quality of life than would be expected for these groups, taking into account income levels, dislocation from family and community support networks etc. She also relates her attempts to implement them in her own life.
Kolker must be a really interesting person and this comes across straight away in her writing. Part Jewish, part Mexican, and having done stints as a journalist in Haiti and other exotic American locations (and I use American in the North, Central and South sense), she spends time in Houston and Chicago with a young family and her photo-journalist husband.
She has also managed to pick 8 very varied cultural ideas, including money clubs, the cuarantena (quarantine) applied to new mothers, com thang (a sort of communal meals-on-wheels business), the benefits of front-stoop-perching – really something from every aspect of life.
Kolker moulds her research into her own life, and I found it fascinating to see how she makes the principles work for herself – her founding of a money club, her digging out and patronage of a com thang business (I tried to do the same but it appears there are not enough Vietnamese people in London).
I would absolutely advocate this fairly quick, simple read for anyone interested in examining how other people live and picking up a few life tips along the way. I’ll certainly be trying to give the cuarantena a shot when there comes to be a RFBT family!