Book Reviews Reader

Naturally Tan: A Memoir, Tan France

Image from Amazon.com

A Lot of Tangents (Pun Intended)

Now, before you start lighting your torches and raising your picket signs, let me first explain: this is the only complaint I have about the book. Tan France has lived an amazing life full of rich and varied family history, traditional and self-made culture, taking risks and reaching various levels of self-actualization.

His story is one to read.

Now, I know very little (if anything) about marketing, but I do know this: when you have a story to tell, you have to strike while the iron is hot.

Though he often mentions (in a very Bob Dylan, Chronicles Volume 1 kind of way) that he never intended to represent an entire community of people who are now inspired by his story, Tan France is now an established and central figure in the LGBTQ+ community. We look to him for inspiration, motivation and perseverance in the face of adversity.

(And it doesn’t hurt that he looks damn good while challenging social “norms.”)

With that said, my only complaint is that there were quite a few tangents. And many of them were very repetitive in nature as he establishes to the reader exactly who he is and who he isn’t. Empowering at times, but as a writer, I felt like some of the stories could’ve used some editing and tightening up.

HOWEVER. Don’t get it twisted. The book’s overall composition is very good and flows very well. I’m only saying it would have been even better with a few run throughs in the editing process before being published.

But, as stated earlier, he had to strike while the iron was hot, and Tan France (in the words of Mugatu from Zoolander) is so hot right now!

…and I don’t think there’ll ever be a time when he’s not…

Tan France + Me = The Movie, Us

(But not in a scary way.)

Now, putting that one critique aside, Tan France has lived a rich life thus far, and with him being so young, it’s encouraging to people like me. I have dreams like him. I have hopes, desires, needs…I’m manifesting and praying (and working) like crazy these days.

He’s inspired me to continue working hard, to never waver on exactly who I am and to keep moving forward through good times and bad.

He’s also kind of freaked me the f*ck out in how similar our backgrounds and life choices are, and I’m not saying this in the oh-we-have-so-much-in-common-he-likes-denim-I-own-jeans! kind of way.

Particularly, the way he describes his family and his role/place in it (e.g. the struggles, the miscommunications, the obligations) and the way he describes his “outside of home life” (e.g. the confusions, the bullying, the cultural clashes) all struck very deep, and very real chords for me as I’m sure they did for many people who grew up with immigrant parents, who were immersed in predominantly white/Caucasian culture and who were trying to figure out their place in all of the ongoing and ever-changing complexities of living life.

However, it was the way he described his relationship with his husband that really threw me for a loop. Aside from the color of our skin, there doesn’t seem to be many similarities between me and Mr. France.

But I firmly believe we married the same person.

The way they met, the way their relationship grew, the way they value each other, the way they build and enjoy the many facets of their relationship was like reading a play-by-play of the relationship I have with my husband.

And it warms my damn heart.

There were many take-aways I got from reading this book, but the ultimate one for me was confirming that I married the best guy on the planet. So, thank you, Tan, for representing the non-whites, children of immigrant parents, Asians, the LGBTQ+ community and so much more.

But mostly thank you for reminding me that I married the right man.

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