Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee


Audiobook.  Recommended by Jennifer, this story was an ideal audiobook.  It is a well-read, long, compelling narrative that has plenty of drama with interesting characters and nobody dies.  The characters are fully developed; we see their better moments as well as their wretched selves.  Only Ella and her father have a limited dimension; they are always good, kind, beautiful, forgiving. 

The main character is Casey, a Korean woman just graduated from Princeton whose parents work many hours running a dry cleaning store.  Unlike her compliant sister, she defies her father who beats her and as the narrative begins, throws her out of the house.  His bad behavior does not seem to end Casey's familial obligation, though she rarely sees her family after that.  When she must introduce her American boyfriend to her parents at her friend Ella's wedding, she finds her loyalty is ultimately with her father when he is confronted with the boyfriend's typically American behavior.  The boyfriend assumes that if he is his usual charming self, the father, like everyone else he meets, will like him.  Instead, it makes the father nuts.

Casey gets a job as a sales assistant with an investment bank and on the day she interviews for the job, she joins the men as they have a free lunch provided by the section that just closed a big deal.  This free food is a regular feature of the lives of these millionaires. 

We meet lots of interesting characters:  Sabine, the incredibly rich Korean woman who wants Casey to be her successor in her clothing business; Leah, Casey's powerless, sheltered mother who both has a beautiful voice and is beautiful; Unu, her Korean boyfriend who gambles away everything; Ted Kim, Ella's evil husband who is undone by his love for an American woman he works with; and many minor characters.  And of course there's Casey who is appealingly defiant, very hard working, has an addiction to spending money on clothes, and loves to make hats (yes, loves to make hats).  The characters seem to be the point of this book.  While the narrative moves forward dramatically, more than reaching a denoument, it hints at things to come.  

Published as an audiobook by Tantor, who has other interesting titles.

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