“Beyond this door,” Rina Ayuyang warns as she guides readers to her suburban Pittsburgh childhood home, “lies a story of dread and woe, despair and sadness.” But no, turn the page, and amid technicolor walls, carpets, and toys strewn everywhere, she admits, “I’m kidding. It’s just a mess. Mostly mine.”
Agilely bouncing between raw vulnerability and guffaw-inducing humor, Ayuyang introduces her earliest memories as the youngest of four kids of Filipino immigrant parents and exuberantly draws herself through the decades into adulthood as wife, mother, and artist. Energetic, kaleidoscopic scenes showcase growing up, enduring school, moving cross-country, becoming a mother, and struggling with that elusive work-life balance.
Presciently appointed “great disco dancers” as godparents, Ayuyang irrepressibly accompanies her life with a soundtrack every step of the way. Fred Astaire, Olivia Newton-John, and Dancing with the Stars prove to be the best antidotes in tough times, because reality is always better with a dose of fantasy. A raucous tribute to family, multi-culti identity, and the saving power of great (but sometimes awful) musicals.