BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

The Madwoman and the Roomba: My Year of Domestic Mayhem by Sandra Tsing Loh [in Shelf Awareness]

*STARRED REVIEW
Despite the “golden years” promised by many, for writer, performer, and University of California, Irvine, professor Sandra Tsing Loh, her “fifty-fifth year was more like living a disorganized twenty-five-year-old’s life in a malfunctioning eighty-five-year-old’s body.” With the same self-deprecating wit and sardonic charm with which she tackled mixed-race identity in Aliens in America; suburban malaise in A Year in Van Nuys; parenthood in Mother on Fire; and menopause in The Madwoman in the Volvo, Loh enters middle age – nursing a rotting tooth, fighting baby mice infesting her 1906 wooden craftsman house in Pasadena, wearing purple pants her girlfriends find hideous. Nevertheless, she makes her loyal audiences laugh (and maybe cry) right along with her.

At 56, Loh is the divorced mother of tween Sally and teen Hannah. Her 97-year-old Chinese immigrant father, known as ”the crazy man of Malibu” for exercising naked on the beach, among other eccentric activities, has a grunge rock song named in his honor. Her Scotch Irish live-in partner, Charlie, is an underemployed theater producer and a Sanskrit-chanting, (seriously) practicing Hindu, with avid devotion to New Orleans’s Mardi Gras. All are crucial characters during her “simple year in midlife” as Loh contemplates becoming a “silvery goddess,” (sorta) sleeps with Arianna Huffington, owes the IRS $34,000, takes her tween to Tampa to meet a suicidal never-seen e-buddy, fights prediabetes with In-N-Out Double-Doubles, fantasizes about living alone, and notices tipsy 4-year-olds at her father’s memorial. Her madwoman antics will undoubtedly entertain, but her raw, unblinking reveals about being a mother, partner, sister, friend, and daughter in her sixth decade are what will continue to resonate long after that final funny page.

Discover: Continuing to chronicle her life with self-deprecating humor and pithy insight, Sandra Tsing Loh falls wholeheartedly into her mid-50s.

Review: “Biography & Memoir,” Shelf Awareness, June 12, 2020

Readers: Adult

Published: 2020

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