The Wangs vs. The World by Jade Chang – Book Review

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I think the last time I read a book by an Asian woman it was Amy Tan. When you’re growing up in the 90s in America, there’s not a lot of stories that feature Asian characters. All I had was The Joy Luck Club and that was pretty much it.

Nowadays, you can read so many stories of so many people and feel that sense of connection you need when you’re a young minority growing up in America. I think The Wangs vs. The World could be that kind of book; a benchmark for younger people to remember where they’re from, who they are, and most importantly how their families arrived here.

28114515 Synopsis (from Goodreads.com) – Charles Wang is mad at America. A brash, lovable immigrant businessman who built a cosmetics empire and made a fortune, he’s just been ruined by the financial crisis. Now all Charles wants is to get his kids safely stowed away so that he can go to China and attempt to reclaim his family’s ancestral lands—and his pride.

Charles pulls Andrew, his aspiring comedian son, and Grace, his style-obsessed daughter, out of schools he can no longer afford. Together with their stepmother, Barbra, they embark on a cross-country road trip from their foreclosed Bel-Air home to the upstate New York hideout of the eldest daughter, disgraced art world it-girl Saina. But with his son waylaid by a temptress in New Orleans, his wife ready to defect for a set of 1,000-thread-count sheets, and an epic smash-up in North Carolina, Charles may have to choose between the old world and the new, between keeping his family intact and finally fulfilling his dream of starting anew in China.

Outrageously funny and full of charm, The Wangs vs. the World is an entirely fresh look at what it means to belong in America—and how going from glorious riches to (still name-brand) rags brings one family together in a way money never could.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

My thoughts – I struggled a little bit with deciding on a rating for this book. On some levels, this book really didn’t capture me as well as I thought it would. On another level, it was amazing and relatable as a 2nd generation-er in America.

As  I mentioned before that this could possibly be the kind of book that new generations growing up in America would want to read. However, it’s not every author’s intention to write a book to hit one minority in this country. The story is also relatable to anyone who’s ever had family strife.

I was lucky enough to be in a family that’s worked hard to build their fortune and have a couple of finer things . It’s always nice to live in comfort and my parents worked hard to give that to us. However, losing your entire fortune could happen to anyone. A dad so determined to piece their family back together can definitely happen to anyone. Disconnected siblings that find solace in each other one day will always happen over and over again.

This family isn’t just about being Asian American, but also about the struggle of life. While not everyone dad is off to another country to claim some land he inherited as a kid, but every family can relate with the strain and turmoil it takes on to stay together. And especially so when you’re not from around here.

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