You may be thinking that it’s a little presumptuous for a 33-year-old to be writing their memoirs. However right from the opening of this engaging read, you realize that these memoirs don’t just chronicle the life of Simu Liu but, in true Asian fashion, focus largely on his parents and grandparents.
This lays a foundation for Liu’s story and honors his family at the same time. By the end of this story, you have a hard time believing that he has actually managed to fit everything he’s done into 33 years!
[This is my review of We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story by Simu Liu. Please be aware that some SPOILERS from the book are discussed below.]
A (very) early opening
Asian culture is known for its strong emphasis on recognizing and honoring ancestors. In keeping with this mindset, Simu Liu isn’t even born until 51 pages into his own memoirs! After he finally makes an appearance, he continues to dedicate the next 30 pages to how his parents managed to bring them all to Canada. Finally settling there and being a family more so than anything he was doing in the early years of his life.
It is a fascinating story of sacrifice and perseverance by both of his parents. And it certainly lends deeper meaning to everything that comes later in Liu’s life, both positive and negative.
Simu Liu almost missed out on playing a superhero
Once Liu becomes an actual player in his own memoirs, the reader sees how very close he came to following the cookie-cutter immigrant child life – instead of breaking molds as a successful Asian actor in an industry that didn’t want him. His parents put an inordinate amount of pressure on him to be “successful,” but only by their definition.
The harder they pushed the less he wanted their definition of “success.” He did actually work (loosely defined) as an accountant for a brief stint before he realized he absolutely couldn’t face it day after day.
Following his own bliss and becoming Shang-Chi
Unable to continue in a life he hated, Liu takes a giant leap of faith and throws himself wholeheartedly into acting. He shares how difficult it was to break into acting (especially as an Asian) but he is never downhearted about it.
The actor stresses that if he hadn’t gotten his big break yet, he’d still be grinding away. He was “lucky” enough to become Shang-Chi but one thing is very clear, luck is made in Liu’s world and he worked hard to make every bit he’s had. He encourages everyone else to do the same and never give up once they know what they want.
A story of a broken family we can learn from
There is plenty of family drama along the way due to his decisions and his parents’ expectations. Simu Liu does not shy away from talking about the difficult times he and his parents had. He minces no words about how they treated him, but he does not play the victim and takes responsibility for his part in their troubles.
His extremely honest take on his relationship with his parents, both in the past and currently, leaves parents and children alike with the hope that they too can heal relationships that feel unrepairable. His struggles will be familiar to the children of any immigrant, but they are not limited to just these children. I think we can all see ourselves in the struggles he faced relating to his parents.
Overall thoughts on We Were Dreamers
Simu Liu treats everything with a healthy dose of humor and the book has a very conversational feel. His style and pacing make for a delightful read. His honest introspection and dissection of his own life leave the reader feeling as if they really know him and are now his new best friend to boot. I laughed out loud and I cried big baby tears as I read it. Somehow I think that’s exactly what he would have wanted.
I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to have a better understanding of Simu Liu, any other 2nd generation immigrant, or simply any family. His story is completely his own but it is also universal and that is what makes it so relatable.
With this book in mind, it certainly seems 33 isn’t too young for a memoir after all. And one thing is very clear after reading this book, Simu Liu is not done. The next 33 years will certainly be filled with enough excitement, adventures, twists, and turns for at least one more book, maybe a few.
My rating for this book: 10/10
We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story by Simu Liu is available on BAM!, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers now! [As affiliates of B&N and BAM! we may receive a commission from purchases made via these links]
For more information about the book, and Simu Liu’s book tour visit this site. I for one am eagerly awaiting the next installment. But what do you think about Simu Liu’s We Were Dreamers? Let us know over on Twitter!