TMW Book Reviews

The Apricot Outlook of Katherine Koon Hung Wong


Dennis W.C. Wong

“The Apricot Outlook of Katherine Koon Hung Wong” is a unique memoir of a Chinese American woman.

Katherine “Katy” C. Wong was born on February 27, 1928. The author, Dennis W.C. Wong, the subject’s son, started this recording for a term paper in his Psychology class. After considerable research and editing, he has compiled a brief yet compelling anecdote of his mother’s summation of her life.

Katherine, who had various conditions, including hypertension and diabetes, shared a few details about her early days, frankly and honestly. Fortunately, her multiple health issues (including stroke) did not hinder her memory, as she could recall significant moments in her youth. Not one to mince words, she talks about her struggles growing up in a working household, including helping at her family’s laundry business.

Unfortunately, the Wing Wo Laundry, established in the Kakaako district in Honolulu, Hawaii, ceased to exist after a fire from the washroom caused it to burn to the ground. With slow sales hindering their ability to pay off their insurance for the business, the family canceled it before the fire took place, resulting in the family having to find other means to make ends meet.

While Katherine wasn’t an academic, she was a hard worker. Two years after graduating high school, she married. Not long after, she bore a child, which will soon be followed by many. Despite other significant life events, including moving to San Francisco and dealing with the eventual death of her husband and child, Katherine remains a key figure in her family until the very end.

While she may never be able to share as many details as possible, her legacy through her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will live on through this book.

“The Apricot Outlook” is a unique memoir because the author kept the subject’s unique voice. While many biographers would like to paint a particular image of their subject, the author does a remarkable job of practicing due diligence by making his work as transparent as possible. Compiled with photos, records, and email exchanges, “The Apricot Outlook” honestly depicts what a person would say about their life if they had to summarize it in a nutshell.

Essentially, we all have moments where our entire life flashes before our eyes, and the author captures that experience perfectly. While not everything is in clear-cut detail, we see the bigger picture in front of us, and as we move on to the next stage, we hope that our loved ones will remember the lessons we left with them.

If you’re looking for a unique memoir with a definitive voice, consider giving “The Apricot Outlook” a read.

– The Moving Words Review

Official Entry: The Most Moving Book Award, Jan. 3, 2024