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Reviewed by Cecelia Hopkins for Readers' Favorite
Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops by Allison Hong Merrill begins with an abusive childhood in Taiwan, where one of the few rays of hope is cast by Mormon missionaries. Allison’s father disowns her for accepting the faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints instead of traditional ancestor worship. Allison learns English and achieves a university entrance. However, she delays finishing her degree to marry Cameron and move to America. In America on a student visa, she is destitute when Cameron abandons her and cleans out their joint account. Seeking aid from the church, she transfers to Brigham Young University. After a couple of dating mistakes, she meets the lovely man she believes God has destined for her.
Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops by Allison Hong Merrill is a poignant and compelling memoir. Some of the incidents are challenging, including vivid descriptions of poverty, abuse, and cultural clash. Merrill wrote so persuasively that I was able to identify with her every experience. The viewpoint she presented was uniquely centered in religion and ethnicity yet was universal as the skillful words touched on the basics of human motivation. I finished reading the story with tears in my eyes, as it was one of the most expressive accounts I have ever read. Merrill opened my eyes to the vulnerability of the immigrant experience and impressed me with the young woman’s determination to succeed. I can recommend Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops by Allison Hong Merrill for anyone who enjoys a combination of women's literature and a human interest story.