Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, and Advice for Living Your Best Life

Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, and Advice for Living Your Best Life

Ali Wong's heartfelt and hilarious letters to her daughters (the two she put to work while they were still in utero), covering everything they need to know in life, like the unpleasant details of dating, how to be a working mom in a male-dominated profession, and how she trapped their dad.In her hit Netflix comedy special Baby Cobra, an eight-month pregnant Ali Wong resonat...

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Title:Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, and Advice for Living Your Best Life
Author:Ali Wong
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, and Advice for Living Your Best Life Reviews

  • Mimi

    I truly feared this book would be fluff. Instead it is fearless and real.

    Ali Wong says how we all feel:

    Yet in her resilience and grit she is able to turn childhood resentment, male rejection, discrimination, getting boo'd offstage, the fear of a prenup, and a bushy pussy into the best things that could have happened to her.

    I laughed out loud as I imagined Ali's exaggerated comedy voice confessing life moments like this one when she was pregnant:

    After

    I truly feared this book would be fluff. Instead it is fearless and real.

    Ali Wong says how we all feel:

    Yet in her resilience and grit she is able to turn childhood resentment, male rejection, discrimination, getting boo'd offstage, the fear of a prenup, and a bushy pussy into the best things that could have happened to her.

    I laughed out loud as I imagined Ali's exaggerated comedy voice confessing life moments like this one when she was pregnant:

    So many times I said YES I totally get that. It wasn't just because we shared a common Asian experience but often because we shared a common human experience. I applaud her courage in sharing so nakedly (sometimes literally nakedly so be prepared for some frank language).

    YES

    YES

    YES

    YES

    YES

    YES

    A friend and I worried because in the intro Ali tries to set our expectations low about her writing. But while her prose isn't exquisite in that way where you can rhapsodize over gloriously minute details, it is weighted with truth which far exceeded my expectations. 5 stars.

    P.S. I have a secret hope that Ali and I are meant to be good friends, for her sister is also named Mimi and her best friend has half my name Miya. But wait would that make me superfluous? I am not too proud to be a 3rd Mimi.

    *My honest review was made possible by an Advanced Reader Copy thanks to Random House.*

  • Chihoe Ho

    Dear Ali Wong,

    I want to be your best friend.

    You made me laugh so hard and cry unexpectedly, separately and also simultaneously (and here is where I should insert the cry-laugh emoji). And you know why I felt what I felt? Because your voice really pierced through the pages. It was like watching you on stage in one of your Netflix stand-up specials, and sometimes even like you were addressing me personally. The content was similar to some of the themes of your specials but

    Dear Ali Wong,

    I want to be your best friend.

    You made me laugh so hard and cry unexpectedly, separately and also simultaneously (and here is where I should insert the cry-laugh emoji). And you know why I felt what I felt? Because your voice really pierced through the pages. It was like watching you on stage in one of your Netflix stand-up specials, and sometimes even like you were addressing me personally. The content was similar to some of the themes of your specials but you poured your thoughts and emotions in this a lot more, since you were really addressing your girls and not me.

    You made me even prouder of my Asian heritage. To hear an empowered Asian person talk about her own experiences in our shared culture and tradition but also in the context of your unique life, provided me with so much appreciation and insight into my own. Beyond the Asian experience, it applies to many of us all - relationships, sexuality, marriage, family, workplace. And this is why representation matters. Because so many others of the same culture can relate to, but also these relatable human experiences are universal.

    Love you,

    Your new BFF

  • Jeffrey Keeten

    I have heard of Ali Wong and have seen her referenced a few times, but have never seen any of her standup. So needless to say, I was leary about reading a memoir about her. This book was recommended to me by someone I trust or I would have never picked it up on my own. I usually like memoirs or biographies by people in the twilight years of their lives or, better yet, dead. I think that comes from being a completist. I want the whole story, not just the first third of someone’s life.

    So here I am writing a review of a memoir by a woman in her 30s. How extraordinary! What is more amazing is that I gave the book five stars. How is this possible?

    It is simply impossible not to.

    Anyone who knows me well has heard my diatribe about movies billed as comedies. It’s not that I don’t like to laugh. I find life a series of comedic events, but I like comedy that occurs naturally, and comedic movies always come across as forced comedy, which ultimately starts to feel flat and fake. I’m soon wishing I’d put in something like

    , where a serious plot is frequently enlivened by comedic elements.

    So what I’m saying is that I’m a terrible risk for a book like this.

    Ali Wong chooses to write her book as a series of letters to her children. The title reflects that, but my first reaction is...I’m a guy, so she isn’t really interested in men reading this book. Won’t I feel like I’m peeping in on revealing secrets not intended for me? Of course, the whole idea of Ali Wong having a secret she hasn’t revealed to the world is rather hilarious. Though I do wonder what secret could possibly be so horrendously embarrassing that Wong would not use it for her stand-up comedy routine?

    So the title does throw me, but I quickly shake it off as I become caught up in her narrative. It isn’t long before I am thinking...don’t tell your daughters that! My lifetime of brainwashed conditioning showing itself, sporting a wagging finger and disapproving look. By the end of the book, I feel like Wong has taken a scrub brush of whitewash to those elements of my mind. Full disclosure: I did watch her ass wiggle as she scrubbed. I would apologize, but then she’d have to bring her scrub brush back to have another go.

    Reading this book is going to make you uncomfortable. It may even offend you, but keep reading because not only is it good to occasionally be uncomfortable, sometimes you also learn to reserve being offended for those things that most deserve it.

    I was about half way through the book when I decided to watch her Netflix special

    . I wanted to put together the Ali Wong being revealed to me in the book with the stand up comedian and found that the honest evaluation of her lusts, wants, and defects were syncopatico. If there is pretense, it is well hidden.

    To some that might be code for rude, but it is hard to consider this level of truth to be rude.

    While watching the special, I loved it when the camera would pan to the audience. Those sideways looks that couples were giving each other, the hand to the face as someone laughed at something they found to be embarrassingly true, and as her husband describes it, “

    ” As compelling as it is to watch Ali’s physical reactions, it was equally fascinating to watch the crowd. If I ever attend one of her events, I’d be tempted to spend the entire skit turned around, observing the crowd. I sort of sprung

    on my wife, no warning, no gentle explanations to prepare her for what she was about to see. She is frequently a test subject to gauge normal reactions to abnormal conditions. If I was laughing, I looked over at her so that I would laugh even harder. She was one of those audience members with her hand over her face as she chuckled. She laughed so hard at one time she had trouble breathing. I didn’t ask her if she had a pee reaction. My wife never sweats, but insists she only glistens, so her admitting to any “vulgar” body reactions would be most unusual.

    The book is hilarious, but it is more than that. She talks a lot about the amount of hard work and dedication it takes to make it as a comedian. She often performed several sets at comedy clubs after working all day. She discusses the added hazard of being a female having to perform in...dives. Can you imagine that walk from the club to her car in the early hours of the morning? She believes that safety is one of the contributing factors as to why there are not more female comedians.

    She talks about her heritage and her relationship with her extended family. Every immigrant family has an interesting story, and her parents are no exception. She is half Vietnamese and half Chinese, and those two cultures may seem similar in the eyes of many, but they actually have vast differences in philosophical approaches to life. Her husband is also half and half, and she describes their relationship as having the

    They were both raised as Americans, but their Asian roots heavily influence who they are.

    Her husband writes an afterward, also addressed to their children, and he is pretty honest about his own personal journey dealing with being frequently the subject of his wife’s comedy. If she were making it all up or exaggerating the circumstances, that would certainly be less of a problem, but the issue, of course, is that she is sending arrows right into the bullseye. I love what he says about her.

    So as unlikely as I am to be an Ali Wong fan, I have to say it has happened. Yes, this book is hilarious, but it also touches on serious issues and, for this reader, even proves to be an inspiration. Keep chasing your dreams, work harder, and don’t give up. Few of us want to be as famous as Ali Wong, but most of us wish we could be more successful at something we love to do. Patience grasshopper. Wax on. Wax off.

    I want to thank Mimi Chan of Goodreads and Random House for supplying me with an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

    If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit

    I also have a Facebook blogger page at:

  • Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters

    Ali Wong makes me laugh....

    ...she is not only hilariously funny...but underneath her raunchy humor, she’s a down-to-earth sweetie-pie luv-bug!

    “Dear Girls” is her memoir - -non-fiction book for her fans - ( I’m one of them), and anyone curious about her.

    It’s written as a letter to her two young little girls....

    with instructions: NOT TO

    BE READ UNTIL AGE 21!

    I loved this book... I loved reading about Ali.....

    *everything Ali*!!!

    We learn about Ali’s upbringing- and he

    Ali Wong makes me laugh....

    ...she is not only hilariously funny...but underneath her raunchy humor, she’s a down-to-earth sweetie-pie luv-bug!

    “Dear Girls” is her memoir - -non-fiction book for her fans - ( I’m one of them), and anyone curious about her.

    It’s written as a letter to her two young little girls....

    with instructions: NOT TO

    BE READ UNTIL AGE 21!

    I loved this book... I loved reading about Ali.....

    *everything Ali*!!!

    We learn about Ali’s upbringing- and her personal life.... with love for her ‘handsome Asian husband’, and her two daughters...

    the heart-of-what-matters-most!

    A few excerpts below:

    “One of the worst places I performed regularly at was

    ‘Our Little Theater’. It literally seated eight people and was located in the heart of the Tenderloin district. That neighborhood was home to Southeast Asian refugees, a million drug addicts, and a truly remarkable amount of human feces on the street. There was no time to think about my set when walking to ‘Our Little Theater’ because I was too busy trying not to get robbed and jumping over doo-doo and syringes on the sidewalk. That’s a game of hopscotch you ‘need’ to win. Because if you lose, your consolation prize is ebola”.

    WORDS of WISDOM from

    Ali to her daughters:

    “At some point you gotta go. Mama loves you but it’s so important to get out of your hometown and get the fuck away from your family. As the youngest of four kids, I was always being observed by my siblings, who would judge my every decision.

    They had a set idea of who I was and it affected me. It was limiting. Everything I said generally had no credence because I was at least ten years younger than every single person in my family, so what did I know? When I got away from them, I finally felt like I could be the person I was meant to be, which just happened to be a person who talked about her wish to put nail polish remover in men’s buttholes so she could accomplish two things at once. Chances are that neither of you is also that person”.

    “My family had always told me how to speak and how to feel about things. Part of what was so liberating about being on stage was that I could say whatever I wanted without having loved ones comment on it. Regardless of how the strangers would respond, at least they were strangers who didn’t know me or have any real authority over who I was. I loved the anonymity of my conversations with an audience”.

    Deciding to move to NYC after four years of doing stand up in San Francisco was hard for Ali. She was 26 at the time, and there were girls just out of college ordering her around who had nicer bags and shoes and she did”.

    “Every day in NYC was about spending as little money as possible. I didn’t see any movies or eat out unless they went out on a date, or it was pizza or falafel. Ninety percent of the time I cooked at the SoHo loft. I’d buy lentils from a bulk bin at the East Village co-op and boil them to eat with salt, like a medieval peasant. And then I’d steam some vegetables from Chinatown. For three dollars and fifty cents, I found a place that sold half of a cooked chicken that was probably loaded with enough antibiotics to turn my blood into Purell”.

    “Pretty much the worst thing about being a woman in stand-up is that you are always forced to socialize with male stand-up comics’ girlfriends”.

    Comedy requires taking risks, and Ali takes them.

    She’s had nights of people yelling ‘boo’.

    She learned from those devastating nights. She’s a comic that seriously works hard at her craft. She learned early to diversify her crowds. She said yes to every opportunity to do a set in other cities, even if it meant losing money.

    Ali gives advice to her daughters about stand-up...[don’t do it]...

    about men, dating, [men should pay on a first date], sex, pregnancy, family, [things she learned from her Vietnamese immigrant mother, siblings, etc.], shoes, [wear flats],

    about making mistakes [make them], and about the many choices they will make in their lifetime.

    Ali also shared with her daughters [ and us], shameful things she did in her youth.

    ....smoked her first cigarette at age 11.

    ....shoplifted lipstick

    ....”One New Years Eve when I was seventeen, I made out with thirteen boys and three girls. That’s basically an entire high school production of ‘Oliver’”.

    ...etc. [she promised her daughters that things get way better after their teen years].

    How anyone can’t see Ali Wong’s greatness - her warm-hearted honest goodness - her gift to the world as an unguarded human being - is beyond me.

    Yep... I love Ali’s stand-up...

    And reading this book was a deeply pleasurable!!

    The last chapter, the Afterword, is written by Ali’s husband, Justin Hakuta

    He writes a letter to his girls...

    “Dear Mari and Nikki”.....

    Justin is mensch of a husband and father!!

    Looking forward to listening to the Audiobook! I can already imagine how enjoyable it will be to hear Ali read it!!

    Thank you Random House, Netgalley, and Ali Wong

  • Debra

    4.5 Stars

    Dear Girls is a book made up of Ali Wong writing letters (chapters) to her young daughters. The letters are hilarious, cautionary candid tales telling of Ali's life experiences from childhood through adulthood and cumulating into her becoming a mother. She is frank, candid, vulgar and hilariously real about all aspects of her life. She is not afraid to take risks and encourages her daughters to do so but to also learn from the mistakes their mother has made.

    Her book reads l

    4.5 Stars

    Dear Girls is a book made up of Ali Wong writing letters (chapters) to her young daughters. The letters are hilarious, cautionary candid tales telling of Ali's life experiences from childhood through adulthood and cumulating into her becoming a mother. She is frank, candid, vulgar and hilariously real about all aspects of her life. She is not afraid to take risks and encourages her daughters to do so but to also learn from the mistakes their mother has made.

    Her book reads like her stand-up comedy specials (heck she mentions them enough in the book). She is fearless and really puts herself out there and pokes fun at her body, dating, her husband, having immigrants as parents, sex, food, pregnancy, and how taking risks paid off and made her a better person and stand-up comic.

    You do not need to be a fan of Ali Wong to read this book. I really didn’t know much about her prior to reading this one. I saw a couple of clips on YouTube of her performing while pregnant. If you were not a fan before this book, you will be after reading it. Unless you are turned off by talk of gapping buttholes and her multiple descriptions of her big bush. Seriously, someone needs to introduce this woman to laser hair removal or as least take her to get waxed. Just thinking out loud there.

    This book is fabulous although it seemed to stop on a dime. It just ended and then there was the afterword written by her husband to their two daughters.

    Overall, a hilariously funny, frank, raunchy, heartfelt and entertaining read.

    Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, it cracked me up and made me smile! All the thoughts and opinions are my own.

  • Miranda Reads

    4.5 stars

    Right off the bat - a quick PSA to Mari and Nikki (the "girls" that Ali refers to in the story) - your mother was right.

    Do not (ABSOLUTELY DO NOT) read this book before you're 21. In fact, deeply consider reading it at all.

    There are things that are objectively hilarious (abso-freaking-lutely hilarious) but horrifying (stunningly so) when you learn it's your own mother in the center of the story.

    Istars

    4.5 stars

    Right off the bat - a quick PSA to Mari and Nikki (the "girls" that Ali refers to in the story) - your mother was right.

    Do not (ABSOLUTELY DO NOT) read this book before you're 21. In fact, deeply consider reading it at all.

    There are things that are objectively hilarious (abso-freaking-lutely hilarious) but horrifying (stunningly so) when you learn it's your own mother in the center of the story.

    In other words - listen to your mother.

    *ahem* onto the review!

    Ali Wong - known for her unfiltered comedy, her hit Netflix comedy special Baby Cobra, and wild life stories - has made a leap into the literary scene.

    Her book, written is a series of letters to her children, provides honest advice on men and marriage. She challenges working women stereotypes, embraces her Asian culture and doesn't back down from a frank sex talk.

    We learn how Ali began her career in San Francisco Bay comedy scene before moving to New York. However, that was no picnic.

    She ran herself ragged sprinting from comedy show to comedy show, auditioning for TV and eventually breaking out in the standup scene.

    She eventually meets her husband and knew it was true love from their very first yoga session together.

    And, (of course) she writes down any and all advice she has for her two children.

    All in all, this was a really, really good book!

    A word of warning though - when I say she's unfiltered - I mean it. Don't go into this book expecting to make it through a chapter without talking either about sex, poop or afterbirth.

    I hadn't known too much about Ali, other than internet clips from her Baby Cobra special, when I went into this book.

    And now? I'm a fan.

    Her frank advice on life:

    really resonated with me.

    I loved how she embraces motherhood in a crude, crass way. I haven't had children, but even I know it's not all mommy-blogs and matching onesies. It's refreshing to have someone unapologetically laying it all on the line.

    If you're a fan of her comedy - or take-no-shit-hold-no-prisoners women - this book is for you!!

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  • Heather K (dentist in my spare time)

    Let me tell you, it is

    a relief to have a funny, well-written book from a comedian that I admire. Man, I've been burned so many times before with mediocre books from comedians, I barely dared to hope with this one. But

    really delivered.

    If you are a fan of Ali Wong,

    . I pinky-swear promise. The beginning of the book is pure Ali Wong humor, and if you think think that means vagina and pubic hair jokes, you would be 100% CORRECT.

    Ali Wong is purely who she is, and I love th

    Let me tell you, it is

    a relief to have a funny, well-written book from a comedian that I admire. Man, I've been burned so many times before with mediocre books from comedians, I barely dared to hope with this one. But

    really delivered.

    If you are a fan of Ali Wong,

    . I pinky-swear promise. The beginning of the book is pure Ali Wong humor, and if you think think that means vagina and pubic hair jokes, you would be 100% CORRECT.

    Ali Wong is purely who she is, and I love that about her. I think people underestimate her (though not so much anymore, thank you "Always Be My Maybe"!), but she is one of the most honest, crassly-amazing comedians out there. I love that she is a parent now, and I related to her stories a ton, even though our upbringing was completely different. I ate up the stories about how she met her husband and how he compared to the (multitude) of men she had dated in the past.

    .

    The second half of the book was a bit less funny and more of an exploration of her ethnic background, which I also enjoyed. Ali Wong showed me a lot about who she is and where she is going, both in her own journey to learn about herself and with her comedy. Sometimes, I think it's too early for a comedian to write a book, but with Ali Wong, it was

    right.

    *Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*

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  • Bradley

    If any of you have enjoyed Ali Wong's stand-up, I'm sure you'll also enjoy this book. Brutal honesty, expose-all humor, and some heart mixed in with all the entrapment stuff that women are into. :)

    Of course, there's always a twist.

    This book is set up as a series of letters to her young daughters, but its kinda a gimmick. One that works, fortunately, by giving us a familiar outlet for her comedy. Some of the sets translate the same way from Baby Cobra or Hard Knock Wife and there's n

    If any of you have enjoyed Ali Wong's stand-up, I'm sure you'll also enjoy this book. Brutal honesty, expose-all humor, and some heart mixed in with all the entrapment stuff that women are into. :)

    Of course, there's always a twist.

    This book is set up as a series of letters to her young daughters, but its kinda a gimmick. One that works, fortunately, by giving us a familiar outlet for her comedy. Some of the sets translate the same way from Baby Cobra or Hard Knock Wife and there's new material here, too, but maybe not as much as some folks might expect. It's about as different from those two specials as the two specials are from each other.

    Is it a good way to get to know her as a comic? Would it be more fun to read this before watching her specials?

    I wouldn't know. I got this book on Netgalley and THEN watched the specials. By then I was already a fan so this is all bonus, baby.

    Have fun!

  • Emily May

    I had such a fun time reading this book!

    was given to me as a gift and, at first, I wasn't sure how much it was really my thing, or even if I was going to read it. I like Ali Wong's stand-up just fine, but I don't read many books by comedians (just

    , which you definitely should read). Also,

    I had such a fun time reading this book!

    was given to me as a gift and, at first, I wasn't sure how much it was really my thing, or even if I was going to read it. I like Ali Wong's stand-up just fine, but I don't read many books by comedians (just

    , which you definitely should read). Also, I say I like Ali Wong because I love how she tells really relatable stories and doesn't sugarcoat them with nice words, but I'm also not a huge fan of crude humour. Look, I grew up in Yorkshire where everyone has a crude sense of humour. In the beautiful land of God’s Own County, you might hear a passing child yell something about “p***y” (I’m only sorta joking). I'm immune to it at this point.

    But, you know, this book was really entertaining and surprisingly sweet and heartwarming (in a hilarious way). Wong writes the book as a series of letters to her young daughters-- about life, love, sex, dating, careers, motherhood, and being East Asian. It's a good one of those funny-serious books in that she's talking about important things but is determined to never lose her sense of humour or trim her hairy bush. As we say in Yorkshire, "good lass".

    What Ali Wong does is normalize all the gross and embarrassing stuff that many people do but won't talk about: fart during yoga, grow a huge forest in the pubic region, date multiple guys who lose their erections... it's quite refreshing.

    Sometimes it seems like Ali Wong is fearless because her comedy is so without inhibition, but she also confesses to her own worries and fears and failures in this book. She leaves her daughters with a powerful message (though they are going to cringe so hard when they finally read this, lol) that it's okay to fail, to mess up, to sleep with the wrong person, to pick yourself up again and laugh about it. How wonderful that these girls have a mother behind them who is simultaneously so strong AND willing to be vulnerable.

    Oh, and the

    . All the talk of delicious food in this book made me so hungry 🤤

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  • Katie

    is about the messy parts of life, but ends up being a bit of a mess itself. Despite the rough bits, though, it's an enjoyable read. Once you get past the shaky opening chapters, stand-up and TV writer Ali Wong is as frank, hilarious, and graphic as you'd expect.

    goes intochapter.

    is about the messy parts of life, but ends up being a bit of a mess itself. Despite the rough bits, though, it's an enjoyable read. Once you get past the shaky opening chapters, stand-up and TV writer Ali Wong is as frank, hilarious, and graphic as you'd expect.

    goes into more detail about what did and didn't work for me.

    But if you're enjoying this book, quit while you're ahead, because the last chapter pops the illusion of candor and relatability like a day-old balloon.

    The final letter is actually from Wong’s husband, and it is

    to self-awareness. The chapter could have been thoughtful and confessional, but it doesn’t quite get there, and ends up a little irritating. The real disappointment, though, comes in the third-to-last paragraph of the book, when Justin Hakuta (Wong’s husband) drops this line:

    There’s… a lot to unpack there, and I try to explain

    why this soured my experience of the book. It's not that I'm surprised that the family has a nanny, it's that it didn't occur to me that she was missing until the very end.

    For all her detailed descriptions of post-birth infection and breastfeeding pains, Wong never once mentions who is taking care of her children during the day. She spends an entire chapter talking about the experience of being a stay-at-home full-time parent while on maternity leave, and how taxing it was. She spends paragraphs praising her husband for being so involved even though he still works. Never once, in her “unflinchingly honest” set of letters

    does Wong mention a woman instrumental in their upbringing.

    Celebrity memoirs require almost as much suspension of disbelief as novels. To enjoy them, you have to ignore the enormous impact of wealth and resources on the life of the person whose problems you're reading about. You have to look past everything that makes their life different to appreciate the moments when they're Just Like You. Even the most honest of memoirs are a magic trick.

    Ali Wong almost pulls it off... but if she wanted to seem relatable, she should have either been honest about the help she gets, or not mentioned it at all.

    Thank you to Random House for providing an advance review copy of this title. No money changed hands for this review and all opinions are my own.

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