Monthly Archives: April 2009

Fresh Off the Boat by Melissa de la Cruz

0060545429 Harper Trophy edition (2006), 243 pages.

My sister introduced me to Filipino-American author Melissa de la Cruz when she read De la Cruz’s “Au Pairs”. I haven’t read the debut novel, but I was particularly interested in “Fresh Off the Boat.” It’s a teen-lit novel about a 14 year old Filipina from Manila, Vicenza Arambullo, who migrates with her family to San Francisco.

Fresh off the boat (or “F.O.B.”) is a phrase used to describe immigrants that have arrived from a foreign nation have not yet assimilated to the host nation’s culture, language, and behavior. (Wikipedia)

So as Vicenza struggles about with the normal teen angst, she also deals with trying to adjust to a different lifestyle. Back in Manila, she and her sister were being driven by the family driver to their private exclusive all-girls school. Her family owned a posh restaurant in Makati, and her mom often played lovely dinner hostess to government officials and politicians. They had regular manicure and pedicure and hair sessions at their salon with personal stylists. But all that changed when her father made one wrong decision with business investment.

Forced to ‘save face’ , the Arambullos migrate to San Francisco and deal not just about cultural assimialtion but having to adjust to being middle-class as well.

Entertainingly written, witty and honest, “Fresh Off the Boat” offers a view to how new immigrants and their families cope, through the eyes of a typical 14 year old.


Author Melissa de la Cruz grew up in Manila and San Francisco. THIS is her website.