When I read Cathy Park Hong’s Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, it felt like I was being shaken awake to something I had convinced myself wasn’t real. The subtle ways Asian Americans are dismissed; how Asian American women feel the need to apologize when taking up any sort of space. I was also floored by how she described the ripple effect of the Chinese Exclusion Act: how that fear of not wanting to stick out has been passed down through generations, and how this survival tactic limits us and can cause self-hate. And at the same time, Cathy shares stories that feel so personal, so fresh and so specific, nobody else could’ve written them. I had never read a depiction of three contemporary, young Asian American women that was so complicated, interesting or full of both love and conflict. Her writing is beautiful, funny, sharp and—most importantly to a working mother of two who has few brain cells left at the end of the day—easy to read.

I annotated the hell out of Minor Feelings—it’s the kind of book you want to dog-ear and underline. Reading it was such a crazy feeling: I felt so seen that I couldn’t believe that this book existed. And it’s become even more painfully relevant in a year in which anti-Asian violence, which has always existed in America, has spiked so aggressively, putting our communities on high alert and searching for solidarity.

This is the book to read when you ask me, “How can I be an ally?” This is the book to read if you want to educate yourself. This is the book to read if you want to be more in touch with your humanity.

Wong is a comedian, writer and actor

Michelle Watt for TIME

Get a print of the 2021 TIME100 cover featuring Cathy Park Hong

Set design by Jacqueline Draper; Styled by Kimberly Nguyen; Hair and make-up by Evy Drew

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