Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"Kissing Outside the Lines:" A Meltingpot Book Review

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

If you recall a while back, I mentioned I'd be reading and reviewing TV actress, Diane Farr's new book, Kissing Outside the Lines: A True Story of Love and Race and Happily Ever After. So, I read it. And it's taken me a moment to decide what I want to say about it. But now I know.

First, I want to say that Farr has penned a very readable and in some parts, quite hilarious book about her experience meeting and marrying her Korean-American husband. Farr has no problem laughing at herself and sharing some of her most embarrassing moments.  For that reason alone, one immediately becomes engaged in the story. In addition, I applaud her efforts at sharing her experience as a White woman marrying into a Korean family and sharing the stories of other interracial and/or intercultural couples. As a member of a mixie tribe myself, I love hearing how other people are living the life.

But here's the problem with the book. Farr's premise that she's shedding light on a topic that remains hidden in the 21st century -- that topic being that people don't want their kids to marry someone outside of their race -- is old news. In the clip below from the Today Show, Farr says about her reasons for writing the book, "[This] is the last prejudice we don't talk about." In other words, after being shunned by her Korean husband's family because she is White, Farr realized that people are secretly prejudiced and it was up to her to tell the world about it.


Sorry to say, Ms. Farr, but it is only because you have pretty much lived your life without being judged by the color of your skin (except for an incident in elementary school where it seems Farr was beat up for being half Italian) that you are shocked by the racism that people all over the world still exhibit.

So, back to the book. It was hard for me to stay engaged in the story, despite Farr's gift for the gab, because I was kind of going 'duh' throughout the whole thing. And because after awhile, I wanted to shake Farr and say, "They (her Korean in-laws) don't dislike you because you're White, they dislike you because you're not Korean!" That's a whole different ball of wax. I think this book could have been saved if Farr had simply decided to write a cute little memoir about integrating her new Korean family, instead of trying to tell the rest of us what we already know about interracial relationships. They're complicated. Some people are mean. And despite the obstacles, sometimes people can live happily ever after.

The Meltingpot grade: Nice Try

Has anybody else read Kissing Outside the Lines? I'd love to hear your opinion.



Michelle said...

Wow. I've been wanting to read it, but not wanting to read it for a while now. You've confirmed some of my suspicions about the book. I had the feeling that her privilege as a white woman examined little to no nuance. Maybe I will pick it up this summer. I think I'll need to be outside on a beach to read it to put myself in a more open frame of mind.

Anonymous said...

While it may be a total "duh" idea for you, many folks of the majority just do not have the "opportunity" to experience racism. I don't think her writing about it should be shunned, I think her writing about it should be applauded for attempting to show what being striped of privilege means.
And I am sure she's not the first or last person who will confuse race (biology) and culture (society).

The Adventures of... said...

I liked this post and review. I haven't read the book and I didn't even know of its existence (living in UK), but a tale of interracial romance and union, I get. So when you break down how the author's POV and from that interview her need to share with everyone that 'GASP!' sometimes some cultures will be prejudiced, I totally get why you react as you did. I would to. I did when reading the post! But these things are obvious to those who've experienced it before, whereas for her, it probably was a revelation. What might have been interesting (I don't know if she does this) would be if she at least tied in the consideration that other ethnic groups in her position would have experienced the same thing, thereby sharing with other whites that 'this isn't new, folks! It happens'. I see this all the time with my Bengali, Indian and Jewish friends- more than disliking another race, culturally the elders expect and can be quite strict their kids towing the party line and marrying one of their own.

LT said...

I think you'll enjoy it as a beach read. Let me know.

Thank you for sharing your opinion. And you are absolutely right that a lot of people probably share Farr's lack of experience dealing with race. For those people, it might be a real eye-opener of a book.

The Adventures of
Thank you for your comments and perspective from across the pond. And Farr does bring in the experiences of other couples in interracial romances, which are interesting to read, but we get more information from the White partner rather than the one of color.