This Book Is My Hope

Allison Hong Merrill
Allison Hong Merrill Author Interview

Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops is a candid memoir detailing the various obstacles in your life and how you faced them. Why was this an important book for you to write?

A: Thank you so much for the thoughtful question. This book is my hope, as an immigrant, to share my cultural background with my children, who were born and raised here in the U.S. and have little connection with their Chinese roots. In part, it’s a family history project. And family means everything to me. It’s important that I tell my kids my truth about my upbringing and cultural conditioning, so they understand why their Chinese mother thinks and acts the way she does. Understanding is associated with love and acceptance. What great gift would it be if my children understand, love, and accept me, even though I’m so different from their American friends’ moms?

What was one of the hardest moments for you to write about?

A: Oh, there are several, actually. But the hardest of them all has to be the scene where I went to my mother’s house to say good-bye. I didn’t know then that it would be the last time I saw her in this life. There was much that needed to be said but wasn’t, and the regrets haunt me in dreams. My first-born child is now the same age I was when I saw my mother the last time. I can only imagine how it would kill me if my child did the same thing to me. I’m not proud of the twentysomething me and the things I did. Life experiences are the best teacher. I’ve definitely learned from my bad choices and mistakes.

What were some ideas that were important for you to explore in this memoir?

A: Thanks for asking such a wonderful question! The first idea that was important for me to explore in this memoir is choice, also known as agency. Most people know that we all have the power to choose. But the less-frequently-discussed fact is that with every choice comes the consequence. When we make a choice, we choose the consequence too. A simple example that illustrates my point is this: If I choose to be kind and to serve others, I choose to feel peace and joy. Ultimately, our lives are a summary of our choices.

Another idea I explored in this memoir is equality. The worth of every soul is equally great in the eyes of God. Understanding this is important, because if we see all human beings the way God sees us, we will love and respect everyone as a child of God and the world will be a much better place. Again, how we treat others is a choice. Building a better world is a choice. Making necessary changes is a choice. You have that choice.

What is one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you were fifteen?

A: I wish someone had told me to be patient, humble, and forgiving. I wish I hadn’t been a self-centered fifteen-year-old girl, only caring about MY needs. Why did my parents leave ME to raise MYSELF? Why didn’t they take up their parental responsibility to provide for ME? Why didn’t they love ME?

Because of the childhood neglect and the emotional/physical distance my parents and I created to keep one another away, there is so much I don’t know about this couple who gave me life. It only took me 35 years to arrive at the understanding, but now, I know to be patient, humble, and forgiving. I choose to believe that my parents did their best. I hang on to this belief so I can let go of all the hurt and pain, so I can create an emotional space for love, love, and love––for my children.

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Allison Hong is not your typical fifteen-year-old Taiwanese girl. Unwilling to bend to the conditioning of her Chinese culture, which demands that women submit to men’s will, she disobeys her father’s demand to stay in their faith tradition, Buddhism, and instead joins the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Then, six years later, she drops out of college to serve a mission—a decision for which her father disowns her.
After serving her mission in Taiwan, twenty-two-year-old Allison marries her Chinese-speaking American boyfriend, Cameron Chastain. But sixteen months later, Allison returns home to their Texas apartment and is shocked to discover that, in her two-hour absence, Cameron has taken all the money, moved out, and filed for divorce. Desperate for love and acceptance, Allison moves to Utah and enlists in an imaginary, unforgiving dating war against the bachelorettes at Brigham Young University, where the rules don’t make sense—and winning isn’t what she thought it would be.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on May 1, 2021, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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