Stay True: A Memoir by Hua Hsu

This memoir is definitely all about the vibes. Hua Hsu captures the aesthetics and culture that characterized his college experiences. Hsu recollects the music, clothes, and cultural influences that shaped this time in his life. The memoir is also about his unlikely friendship with Ken, someone whose tastes didn’t really match Hsu’s. The two nevertheless become friends and Hsu relates some of their shared escapades. After Ken’s murder, the memoir adopts a more sombre tone, as Hsu renders on the page his own grief as well as those of the people around him.

I honestly wanted to love this a lot more than I did. Hsu spends too much time discussing his hobby and interests and not enough time fleshing out or conveying the personalities of the people who characterized his college days. I would have liked less talk about aesthetics and more about friendship tbh. While Hsu does explore grief, he also uses that same section of the memoir to do a lot of college talk that failed to enthuse me. I liked it when he spoke about his calls with his father and the way he captures the atmosphere of that specific period of time. Nevertheless, I wanted something with more of a bite. This was an easy enough read, which is odd given the subject matter. Hsu, I don’t know you, and I’m sure you were being slightly self-deprecating, however, the college self you present in this memoir gave me some serious Not Like Other Guys vibes and that is just not my vibe. He is an alternative, he likes wearing vintage clothes, and wearing band tees (of course, unlike other people he listens to those bands), he is into zines…you get the drift. I’m sure this memoir will resonate with a lot of readers but sadly I found its portrayal of friendship somewhat of a let-down.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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