Title: Free Food for Millionaires
Author: Min Jin Lee
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, New York (2008)
Casey Han, a 22 year-old graduate of Princeton, is the daughter of Korean immigrants. She knows she should chose a respectable career like law but she is torn by her love for fashion and defers her admission to Columbia Law School. She yearns to fit in somewhere but feels disconnected from the traditions of her culture. To pay her bills, she takes a job as a sales assistant on the bond desk at a Wall Street investment bank. The title of the book refers to the free food offered to the staff on the bond desk when they execute a deal.
Casey is scrappy, impulsive, and imperfect. She says things and does things that get her into trouble, big trouble. Casey likes fashion and spends too much money on clothes (something I can totally relate to!). She understands the power of donning a particular piece of clothing and felt that "clothing was magic" and could literally "change a person" (page 39).
"Smart girls who read books weren't supposed to be materialistic...And equally true was that smart girls wanted to be beautiful in the way beautiful girls wanted to be smart." (page 40)
Why I Chose This Book:
The provocative cover photo and the unusual title enticed me to read this book. I was hooked from the first line: "Competence can be a curse."
This is not a chick lit book but neither is it an unreadable literary fiction work lacking a plot. I was drawn into the story and was captivated right to the end. I loved this book, especially as it explored two themes close to my heart: being the daughter of immigrants and being an intellectual who loves fashion.