Review: Kissing Outside the Lines by Diane Farr

Artsy Irish-Italian girl falls in love with cool Korean dude in America.  Their parents are less than pleased. Sound familiar?

When I first read Diane Farr's piece in Modern Love, which ended with the bio indicating she had just published Kissing Outside the Lines on her life as the aforementioned Irish-Italian girl, I believe I ordered the book from in four seconds flat. I needed to read it. There were other cardholding members out there!  Besides just my sister-in-law and I!  American white girls who wouldn't let go of their Korean men!

Given my vested interest in the subject matter, I have a significant mammoth bias in reviewing her book. In fact, I am so deeply committed to exposing the truth about smooching outside those invisible yet indelible lines that I am probably the worst person to review this book.  Because Farr's book was billed as funny. And reading about another of my countrywomen getting the silent treatment from her beloved's auntie? Is the opposite of funny to me. It ties my stomach in Boy Scout-strength knots.

The content of this book is about 50% of what I would call intuitainment. That is, super amusing writing infused with a lot of intuition and cultural awareness. Farr is a good writer. And a good thinker. Her voice is consistent, even though she ranges from incredulous to earnest to hysterical to so dagnab clever. She really bares the condition of her mind and heart throughout the book.

The investigative nature of the book is a bit lacking, however. Farr essentially interviews a motley assembly of interracial couples in the interest of serving her own curiosity about What It Takes to Make It in this country as an interracial couple. She tells each couple's story in a way that is very conversational and rife with imagery. However, there are many instances in each story where the reader wonders, Really? You're just going to drag those in-laws' reps through the mud and not even allow them to comment on their side of how things all went down when they became estranged from their daughter for marrying the Latino dude? I found this a major shortcoming of the book, even though Farr indicates that this was intentional.

But if I drill down to what the book meant to me, put simply, it was a reminder of how very young I was when I met my husband. And by young, I mean stoopit. Because Farr and her main K-squeeze were in their thirties when they met. They had careers and a few moneys in their bank accounts. They had traveled. They knew stuff about the world and about themselves that I didn't know when I was BARELY OLD ENOUGH TO VOTE. I was 19 when Loverpants and I came together as cookies n' milk. I didn't know what I didn't know. I made a thousand mistakes with his family, not because I was rude, but because I had no guideposts, no manual, no one in the same boat rowing against the current with me.

Looking back, I don't regret all those blunders, all those awkward meals and tense conversations in Korean within my earshot where I would just listen for my name to see if Loverpants and his parents were talking about me.

This book is an important one. It rehashed of a lot of troubling aspects about the culture into which I married, but it also sheds light on a lot of the troubling aspects of American culture that are keeping us from entering that quasi-mythical land of post-racism. I respect the body of work Farr has produced and I hope many more people will read it and discuss it and be nicer to women in hanboks on their wedding day.

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