On her website, Heather Diamond describes herself as always having had “a rebellious streak and itchy feet,” which would certainly be a fitting (albeit incomplete) summary of her memoir, Rabbit in the Moon. By the time she’s forty-five, Diamond is a twice-married grandmother teaching at a Houston community college. She then attends an East-West Center seminar in Hawaii and falls in love with Fred, a married ethnomusicologist from Hong Kong, which is when her life turns upside down yet again. Within five years of their meeting, they are married and soon spending close to a year in Hong Kong.
I really enjoyed Rabbit in the Moon. It was easy and enjoyable to read and I could identify with a lot of Diamond’s experiences. Of course, I never moved to another country to live next door to my in-laws, so I could never fully understand how jarring that experience must’ve been for Diamond. However, I have been at family gatherings with dozens of my then-husband’s relatives, all of whom were speaking a language I didn’t understand and sharing food and cultural exchanges in ways I’d never before experienced.
The blending of two families can be that much more difficult when the two families speak different languages, have widely divergent cultural practices, and express love in significantly different ways. In the months Diamond spent living next door to her in-laws on the small Hong Kong island of Cheung Chau, she went from having infrequent visits with her family to sharing nearly every meal with Fred’s. In a kind of cultural immersion therapy, she reflects on the differences between the two families’ dynamics and traditions, including the pros and cons of a life of independence versus interdependence.
By the end of Rabbit in the Moon, Diamond comes to realize that even the most polar opposite of families can usually relate when it comes to loving each other, parents wanting their children to go farther in life than they did, and children bucking for their independence.
Even if you can’t readily identify with an intercultural/interracial marriage, almost everyone can identify with the book’s broader themes of wanting to rebel from one’s parents as a teen, wanting to gain independence and respect as an adult, having to regroup when life doesn’t go quite as we’ve planned, wanting to follow your heart—even when others may judge you for it, and struggling to be loved and understood by those you love.
Heather Diamond’s memoir is as down to earth and relatable as it is unique. I’d highly recommend it.