The rite-of-passage chronicles of the artist at age 22, coming to terms with her ethnic heritage.
A virtuosic comic artist whose slapdash introspection is occasionally reminiscent of Lynda Barry, MariNaomi (Kiss & Tell: A Romantic Resume, Ages 0-22, 2011, etc.) tells a story here that is both singular and universal, sure to resonate most strongly with females facing similar challenges of young adulthood. It takes place in 1995, beginning and ending with the breakup of a relationship, while the pages in between detail a relationship that almost became a marriage. After leaving San Francisco for San Jose—“I needed to clear my head and reboot, so I chose to do so more than fifty miles away”—she quickly became involved with her co-worker Giuseppe after both had confided about their history of broken relationships. Though she says that the common bond was that they were “both sluts,” promiscuity didn’t seem to be an issue during their year together. Instead, they faced challenges from a number of low-paying jobs, the ethnic divide between his Italian culture and her Japanese-American one, and an extended visit to Japan, where they realized that their impulsive decision to become engaged was likely a mistake. The author’s pilgrimage toward cultural illumination began when she stumbled into a job as a hostess at a Japanese-American bar, where the young women competed for tips and at least one was a borderline prostitute. She wondered why her mother had never bothered to teach her Japanese, and she enlisted her fiance to accompany her to Tokyo, where a visitor’s visa would allow her to reunite with her extended family and immerse herself in their culture. By the time she returned, her perspective on her Japanese heritage had shifted: “The cultural divide was much deeper than I’d thought possible.”
This third volume of memoir reads like a chapter in an ongoing series, leading readers to anticipate what comes next.