What Is “Fish Cheeks” by Amy Tan?

“Fish Cheeks” is a personal essay written by Amy Tan that explores a frustrated teenager’s struggle to accept her own cultural background. Within the essay, the young teenager expresses her embarrassment about her family’s customs and Chinese traditions.

The author of “Fish Cheeks” explains how she felt like an alien in a predominantly white culture. Instead of embracing the differences, she wished to make the obvious differences in appearance and customs disappear so she could conform to the American ways of her friends and classmates. The theme of the piece focuses on the identity crises many multicultural children face while growing up.