As an expatriate woman in Asia, this book was meant for me. I have seen it talked about on practically every other expat blog I follow, and I read it in between reading some of the novels I have saved on my Kindle.
How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit? is a delightful full-course meal. There are stories of love, loss, and the art of finding oneself while struggling and growing in a foreign country. As an expat who is currently dealing with my own set of struggles, I was motivated (and sometimes shocked) by the words of so many other women who have blazed their own trails through Asia.
So many stories stood out to me and really struck a chord. I have been through some of the things these women have first-hand, and I know exactly what it feels like to face the internal struggle of resenting being stared at while also missing the attention once returning home. Other stories really taught me how different my life in Asia is compared to some expats. I know so many others like me – a young Caucasian woman living alone and teaching in Japan. However, this compilation featured stories from women of all walks of life. Some went to Asia with their husbands. Others found a husband in Asia. Still others watched as their families fell apart.
Some of the stories had me laughing at the craziness of Asia, sympathizing with the author and reliving some of my own crazy situations. Some were shockingly sad, others shockingly hopeful. I felt like the position of each story worked and the transition between them never seemed wrong. The language in each story was vivid and raw, beautiful and cunning. Women expats in Asia really know how to tell a story.
I always think of myself as someone with a unique story when I’m in my home country. As a woman from the South, I don’t know many other people who expatriated to Asia except for those I’ve met while living here. And yet, from reading this book, I can definitely see how my story is unique even within the expat community. Everyone struggles to define themselves, but this book really showed me that our different stories and similar situations can really help us connect and uncover our true selves.
Reading this book was like looking through a kaleidoscope. All the colors are the same, but depending on the light and the rotation, those colors cane take shape in so many different ways. I learned to treasure my experiences and see from others’ perspectives. I would recommend this book to anyone living in Asia and any expat (woman or otherwise). We all have such moving and hilarious stories. It’s time we all start sharing more of them.