Study Center Press (2003), $18
InvAsian is an appropriate title for an anthology that busts every stereotype in the book about Asian-American women. A compendium of diverse writings (some better than others), the collection explores topics such as identity, family, sexuality, and feminism from a perspective that's often overlooked. Tapping into writers of varying ages and diverse ethnic backgrounds -- from Muslim Pakistanis to half-Irish, half-Korean "hapas" to Laotians -- it offers a wide snapshot of the community. The compilation is rich with witty, entertaining, and sometimes heartbreaking essays and poems, many of which offer fresh insights on subjects such as the power dynamics in interracial relationships, the binds and traps of sexual abuse, and the energy that comes from reigniting one's politicism. Among the best contributions are nimble works by such authors as Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (in which she describes a fairy tale that she used to enact as a child in India); hilarious essays by journalists like Lynn Lu (about the trials and tribulations of being a flat-chested Chinese-American chick); and standouts from up-and-coming writers like the Bay Area's Sasha Hom (with a poignant essay about being a transnational adoptee searching for home). Unfortunately, interspersed among these gems are a few so-so poems and some essays on abuse that, while important, should have been better shaped and edited. As powerful as some of the entries are, this disparity in the writing gives the anthology an uneven, unfocused feel. InvAsian serves as a useful companion to Yell-Oh Girls (an anthology by young Asian-American women published in 2001), but with less of its consistency and polish.