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.

December 2016 TBR – #readthemargin

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Recently, a fellow book blogger going by the name of @ladybookmad created a new hashtag called #readthemargin for the month of December.

What’s the point of the tag? Well, because there’s a want and need to read more diverse books. As an Asian American woman, I want to educate my fellow readers on the different cultures and backgrounds . Also, it feels good to relate to the people and places I read about.

So, I’ve dedicated my December TBR not only to reading authors on the margins of society, but also to read a little bit of the people that make up a huge part of my being. I hope you’re reading the margin, or at least taking some time to read.

The Wangs vs. The World by Jade Chang

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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.

 

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

18373213When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor. 
 
On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers.

 

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

23398763“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A profoundly moving story of family, drama, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

 

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

22822858When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.