“Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops is a fascinating, important, and well-developed narrative, told by a sympathetic narrator with much urgency and grace.” ––Sue William Silverman, author of How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences
“Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops follows Allison’s journey from Taiwan to Utah seeking love and belonging after a difficult childhood, marriage and divorce. The story is heartfelt, brave, and ultimately inspiring, written in a uniquely charming voice.” –– Harrison Candelaria Fletcher, author of Presentimiento: A Life in Dreams
“Russian composer Dmitri Shostavoch said, ‘When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something.’ In the case of young Allison Hong Merrill, her desire TO believe in something may have saved her from ultimate despair. In this compelling memoir, the author poignantly details incidents of neglect, abuse, and rejection, which left her feeling without purpose or promise. With a pure longing to understand the meaning of her own young life, Allison must carefully choose her path in hopes of discovering divinity.
Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops masterfully weaves stories of the author’s Chinese family, spanning two decades, intermingled with regional history, culture, and culture shock in America. A fascinating tale of both cruelty and compassion.” — Jodi Orgill Brown, Interactions Expert, Speaker, and Award-winning Author of The Sun Still Shines
“Allison Hong Merrill has a gift for writing a dramatic tale while simultaneously sharing her hard-won wisdom. Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops reads like a novel.
Merrill’s story not only gives a reader a greater understanding of Chinese culture, language, and traditions, but it also provides insight into the human condition while building a bridge between east and west. Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops is a brilliant and beautiful debut!” ––Rev. Camilla Sanderson, author of The Mini Book of Mindfulness
“Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops is a deeply moving memoir that depicts the story of a Taiwanese immigrant bride abandoned in Texas, and how she triumphs over tremendous odds to build her American dream. Allison Hong Merrill’s gift of storytelling will take you on an exciting, rewarding, and emotional journey and leave you wanting more.” ––Dr. Linda Murphy Marshall, author of Ivy Lodge, A Memoir
A Taiwanese girl, ALLISON HONG, understands––but disagrees with––her Chinese culture that conditions women and girls to silently wait for men to tell them what to do.
Unlike other typical Buddhist girls, at fifteen, Allison disobeys her father and chooses to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At twenty-one, she chooses to drop out of college to serve a mission, for which her father disowns her. After her mission, she chooses to elope with her Chinese-speaking American boyfriend, CAMERON CHASTAIN, and get married in Texas.
Sixteen months into the marriage, one day she returns home to their apartment, only to discover that in her two-hour absence, Cameron has moved out all their possessions, closed their bank account, and filed for divorce. She must learn to speak for herself, in English, to survive being abandoned in a foreign land.
Desperate for love and acceptance, Allison moves to Utah and enlists in an imaginary, unforgiving dating war against the Mormon bachelorettes at Brigham Young University.
As an immigrant in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, Allison is free to be anything she wants. So she chooses to be brave and break the Chinese cultural expectation for her to be silent.
Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops is the inspiring and galvanizing story of a young woman’s journey from a powerless immigrant bride to a confident woman in command of her own destiny. This book is for anyone who has struggled with gender inequality, racism, and immigrant injustice. Ultimately, it’s about a strong woman of color determined to create her own path.