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The Wangs vs. the World

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Charles Wang, the patriarch at the heart of The Wangs V. the World, was raised in Taiwan, having fled the Communists in mainland China. He grows up with a yen for his family’s unseen acres in a lost homeland. He is a brash, brilliant, lovable asshole who came to America and built a cosmetics fortune. When the book begins, it is the late summer of 2008, and thanks to a bad Charles Wang, the patriarch at the heart of The Wangs V. the World, was raised in Taiwan, having fled the Communists in mainland China. He grows up with a yen for his family’s unseen acres in a lost homeland. He is a brash, brilliant, lovable asshole who came to America and built a cosmetics fortune. When the book begins, it is the late summer of 2008, and thanks to a bad case of “irrational exuberance,” he has just lost it all. Now all Charles wants is to get his family safely stowed away so that he can go back to China, the homeland he has never even seen, and attempt to reclaim his ancestral lands. The Wangs V. the World follows the Wang family on a cross-country journey from their foreclosed Bel-Air home to the Upstate New York retreat of Charles’s eldest daughter, Saina, an art-world “It Girl” in hiding after the disaster of her most recent show and the breakup of her engagement. Charles pulls Andrew, his virginal, aspiring-comedian son, and Grace, his style- and suicide-obsessed teen daughter, out of schools that he can no longer afford and packs them into the only car that wasn’t repossessed—along with their wealth-addicted stepmother, Barbra. The story is told from all five of the Wangs’ third-person POVs. But with his son waylaid by a much-older temptress in New Orleans, his wife ready to defect for a set of 1000-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, finally fulfilling his dream of China.

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Charles Wang, the patriarch at the heart of The Wangs V. the World, was raised in Taiwan, having fled the Communists in mainland China. He grows up with a yen for his family’s unseen acres in a lost homeland. He is a brash, brilliant, lovable asshole who came to America and built a cosmetics fortune. When the book begins, it is the late summer of 2008, and thanks to a bad Charles Wang, the patriarch at the heart of The Wangs V. the World, was raised in Taiwan, having fled the Communists in mainland China. He grows up with a yen for his family’s unseen acres in a lost homeland. He is a brash, brilliant, lovable asshole who came to America and built a cosmetics fortune. When the book begins, it is the late summer of 2008, and thanks to a bad case of “irrational exuberance,” he has just lost it all. Now all Charles wants is to get his family safely stowed away so that he can go back to China, the homeland he has never even seen, and attempt to reclaim his ancestral lands. The Wangs V. the World follows the Wang family on a cross-country journey from their foreclosed Bel-Air home to the Upstate New York retreat of Charles’s eldest daughter, Saina, an art-world “It Girl” in hiding after the disaster of her most recent show and the breakup of her engagement. Charles pulls Andrew, his virginal, aspiring-comedian son, and Grace, his style- and suicide-obsessed teen daughter, out of schools that he can no longer afford and packs them into the only car that wasn’t repossessed—along with their wealth-addicted stepmother, Barbra. The story is told from all five of the Wangs’ third-person POVs. But with his son waylaid by a much-older temptress in New Orleans, his wife ready to defect for a set of 1000-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, finally fulfilling his dream of China.

30 review for The Wangs vs. the World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    Hilarious? Well I obviously didn't get it. The Wangs vs. the World has been getting a lot of buzz lately, riding in on the recent wave of financial crisis lit. It's about a wealthy immigrant Chinese family in America - The Wangs - and how they lose everything in the wake of the 2008 economic disaster (it is actually the second book I've read in the last week about the crisis - the other being Behold the Dreamers). Firstly, I know it's a personal thing but this is not my brand of humour. It's silly Hilarious? Well I obviously didn't get it. The Wangs vs. the World has been getting a lot of buzz lately, riding in on the recent wave of financial crisis lit. It's about a wealthy immigrant Chinese family in America - The Wangs - and how they lose everything in the wake of the 2008 economic disaster (it is actually the second book I've read in the last week about the crisis - the other being Behold the Dreamers). Firstly, I know it's a personal thing but this is not my brand of humour. It's silly and campy, and I must have laughed a grand total of 0 times. One of the first attempts at hilarity in the book is about how the Americanized "Wang" is basically a penis joke. Ha. Another is that Charles Wang's company started by producing urea. As in piss. Um... ha? As I said, definitely not my brand of humour. Penises stopped being funny a long time ago. Piss never was. Worse than that, though, is the complete lack of love I had for any of the characters. They are irritating and unlikable, but not in an interesting way. It was really hard to make myself attend their pity party as these spoiled, insufferable people lost their live-in maid and had to leave behind their private schools. I can sympathize when it comes to tragedy, but not when rich people get a shot of the real world. Boo freaking hoo. Credit where it's due: there's some good dialogue, especially between the siblings. I feel like the author made a lot of effort to create complex, well-rounded characters - they were not short on characterization - it's just that I simply disliked them. I didn't care about them, nor did I relate to their problems, hopes, dreams or fears. I get that their lives were falling apart, but I had a complete emotional disconnect from that. And that's a real problem here. The book relies on its characters and dialogue to move forward, as there's very little actual plot. It's predominantly a story of (former) rich people family dynamics. Outside of that, there's a lot of industry talk - cosmetics, finance, journalism, etc. - which really didn't float my particular boat. One of the biggest problems I see other reviewers having with this novel is the inclusion of untranslated Chinese. I get why an inability to understand parts of the book would bother people, but what's interesting is that it didn't bother me. Because I honestly did not care what the translation was. I was, unfortunately, not that interested in what the book was saying. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | Store

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jesse (JesseTheReader)

    This was a miss for me and I so desperately wanted to like it. There were still things about it that I enjoyed, like the message of money and how it can't ultimately give you everything you need in life and how it can all be taken away from you at any moment. I also felt there was a great display of character growth from a few of the characters. But... this felt like a giant puzzle where all the pieces don't feel like they really fit together, but they do. There were several outrageous subplots This was a miss for me and I so desperately wanted to like it. There were still things about it that I enjoyed, like the message of money and how it can't ultimately give you everything you need in life and how it can all be taken away from you at any moment. I also felt there was a great display of character growth from a few of the characters. But... this felt like a giant puzzle where all the pieces don't feel like they really fit together, but they do. There were several outrageous subplots that didn't add anything to the story. I started to like where the story was going towards the ending, but then as I kept reading I became aware of this feeling that I wanted everything to be over. It just kept going and going and really dragged the ending out. I do think I'd give this author another go though, because I enjoyed their writing style!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Larry H

    Before I start my review of Jade Chang's The Wangs vs. the World , here's a question: how do you feel when an author has their characters frequently speak in a different language, and they don't provide translation? Does that irritate you? It does me, even if I can generally figure out what they're saying. "History had started fucking Charles Wang, and America had finished the job." Charles Wang was a force to be reckoned with, a self-made man who left his home in Taiwan and over the years, built Before I start my review of Jade Chang's The Wangs vs. the World , here's a question: how do you feel when an author has their characters frequently speak in a different language, and they don't provide translation? Does that irritate you? It does me, even if I can generally figure out what they're saying. "History had started fucking Charles Wang, and America had finished the job." Charles Wang was a force to be reckoned with, a self-made man who left his home in Taiwan and over the years, built a multi-million-dollar cosmetics empire. He and his wife, Barbra (yes, she named herself for Barbra Streisand) rub elbows with celebrities and are written about in magazines and newspapers. But then the financial crisis hits the U.S., and that, coupled with Charles' unending ambition and his belief that he knows better than financial experts, leads to his total ruin. His house, his companies, his assets get seized by the bank, and even his cars get repossessed. He's angry and vows this won't be the last of him, so he plans to travel to China, where he's convinced an ancient law will allow him to claim his family's ancestral lands, so he can get back on top again and prove his might. First, he pulls his precocious, style-savvy daughter Gracie out of boarding school he hasn't been able to pay for, tells his aspiring comedian son Andrew that there's no more money for college (or his expensive SUV, which gets repossessed), and Charles, Barbra, and the children plan to make a road trip from the West Coast to the upstate New York home of his oldest daughter Saina, a once-renowned artist who has gone into hiding after her last show was met with critical disdain. But Charles has no idea what kind of issues each member of his family is dealing with, and how those issues will come into play during their roadtrip, and truth be told, he isn't that interested. On this trip, relationships, careers, even lives are at stake. Will Charles be able to regain his position on top, and restore his family's lives to the manner in which they've become accustomed? To be honest, I had a lot of issues with this book, not the least of which was the foreign dialogue issue I mentioned at the start of this review. Based on the description of the book, I expected it to be a less-campy version of one of Kevin Kwan's books ( Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend ), but it definitely wasn't. I got the impression, however, that parts of it were intended to be funny but they just fell flat for me. My biggest problem with this book was that I cared very little for any of the characters. Any time I felt one of them was sympathetic they did something else to change my mind. For a book with Charles Wang as its anchor, the story didn't dwell on him as much until the end, choosing instead to focus on his three children and his wife, and it felt as if Chang just kept throwing new curves at them. This was definitely a book I thought about not finishing more than a few times, because the story kept dragging on, and it just kept getting sillier. I really liked Chang's ear for dialogue (when it was all in English) and she has a talent for evoking images and characters. Maybe I just had unfair expectations of this book, but this one just didn't work for me. NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available! See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cheri

    NOW AVAILABLE This debut novel is a very entertaining read. In some ways, it’s similar to The Nest, but without the backstabbing sibling rivalry, with somewhat quirkier and more likeable characters. It has its moments of being charming, despite everything negative that the family is going through. They lose their home, their money, pretty much everything, after the market crashes in 2008. Grace, the youngest, has a particularly interesting / amusing view on the whole “escapade” of pulling her out NOW AVAILABLE This debut novel is a very entertaining read. In some ways, it’s similar to The Nest, but without the backstabbing sibling rivalry, with somewhat quirkier and more likeable characters. It has its moments of being charming, despite everything negative that the family is going through. They lose their home, their money, pretty much everything, after the market crashes in 2008. Grace, the youngest, has a particularly interesting / amusing view on the whole “escapade” of pulling her out of her private school, on their way to pick up brother Andrew at ASU. The plan is to drive from their home in Southern California to oldest sister Saina’s house in upstate New York via ASU, Austin, TX, New Orleans are a few of their planned stops. Saina is an artist, with several successful shows to her credit, but Saina moved from NYC to this old farmhouse on acreage to escape to a life with less intrusions. Father Charles and stepmother Barbra head out to pick up the kids and head to a new, more economically challenged life. Not in one of their newer cars, even Andrew’s is being repossessed, but in the Mercedes that used to belong to Charles’s first wife. An older Mercedes. I loved the periodic inclusion of the Mercedes’ point of view on this trip, the indignity of it all. It’s a long drive from California to Saina’s house. But first, they have to make their way through the South to deliver some goods to one of father Charles’s customers. They also attend a wedding in New Orleans for people they don’t really know. Things are never quite the same after that experience. It took me a while to really feel invested in the characters, but overall, it’s a very entertaining read. I will be surprised if Hollywood doesn’t already have plans to turn this into a movie, and I expect it will be a big hit when it’s made. Pub Date: 4 October 2016 Many thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, NetGalley and to the author Jade Chang for providing me with an advanced copy for reading and review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    This is a novel that immerses itself in the Wang family when their wealth disappears completely in the 2008 financial markets crash. It is exacerbated by Charles Wang's inability to follow the advice given by experts, in his arrogance he believes he knows better and lives to rue his irrational decisions. Charles was raised in Taiwan and came to the US with nothing. As a first generation immigrant, he built up a cosmetics fortune. He is married for the second time to Barbra, yes, named after Barb This is a novel that immerses itself in the Wang family when their wealth disappears completely in the 2008 financial markets crash. It is exacerbated by Charles Wang's inability to follow the advice given by experts, in his arrogance he believes he knows better and lives to rue his irrational decisions. Charles was raised in Taiwan and came to the US with nothing. As a first generation immigrant, he built up a cosmetics fortune. He is married for the second time to Barbra, yes, named after Barbra Streisand. They have lived a celebrity lifestyle and struggle to adapt to their new circumstances. He is a in your face, brash character and he is angry at the situation he finds himself in. His family are from China where their considerable land was taken. Due to a specific law, he believes that he will now be able to claim back the family acres and be able to be back at the top again. He wants to take the family to China, but fails to understand that they may not want to go there. Charles decides to collect the family and go on a road trip to New York where his eldest daughter, Saina, resides and whose trust fund he believes is safe. He extracts Grace, his teenage daughter from private school and Andrew from university where he dreams of being a comedian. The family then set off. What the trip really does is reveal the characters and give insights into their history, life and aspirations in all their dysfunctional glory. The side trip to New Orleans has Andrew in thrall to an older woman, Dorrie. Barbra is less than comfortable with their new status of being bankrupt and eyes up other opportunities. Grace has thoughts of suicide interspersed with those of fashion and style. Saina who is part of the art world circles finds herself in hiding after a downturn in her stock. The narrative gives each person's point of view and each has their story, although no character is likeable. The novel gives us cultural and immigrant perspectives, with humour and irony. The fractious road trip is a vehicle for us to get to know the family. I liked the story well enough and I think it covered key issues in the US today. Thanks to Penguin for an ARC.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    I'm less than a third of the way in and I've already decided this is not for me . It could be that I just don't have a sense of humor as I wasn't finding the story as hilarious as some others have described it. A few years ago I would have gritted my teeth and read it, but I'm at the age where I think life is too short and I so value my reading time that I don't think twice about quitting a book that I probably won't enjoy. I think it's just not my kind of book and I should have known better th I'm less than a third of the way in and I've already decided this is not for me . It could be that I just don't have a sense of humor as I wasn't finding the story as hilarious as some others have described it. A few years ago I would have gritted my teeth and read it, but I'm at the age where I think life is too short and I so value my reading time that I don't think twice about quitting a book that I probably won't enjoy. I think it's just not my kind of book and I should have known better than to request an ARC. You should read some of the full reviews before deciding whether to read it. There are a number of high ratings so I may be an outlier here . I received this advance copy from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Edelweiss and NetGalley.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    I was looking forward to this book. But it never succeeded in grabbing my interest. It was supposed to be funny, right? There's a premise similar to The Nest, in that a family that had money loses it all. Kids that thought they would never have to worry, now are just like the rest of us. I don't have to like the characters to like a book. But if I don't like the characters, I do need to like the plot. Here, the plot was boring. As my husband said when I was explaining how unhappy i was with the I was looking forward to this book. But it never succeeded in grabbing my interest. It was supposed to be funny, right? There's a premise similar to The Nest, in that a family that had money loses it all. Kids that thought they would never have to worry, now are just like the rest of us. I don't have to like the characters to like a book. But if I don't like the characters, I do need to like the plot. Here, the plot was boring. As my husband said when I was explaining how unhappy i was with the book, “good premise, poor execution”. Someone else mentioned it, but I will confirm that it's really upsetting to have pieces of dialogue in a foreign language that's not translated. And it happens whenever Ama is speaking. My first book in a long time that just wasn't worth finishing.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ I really should have followed the advice of America’s favorite T.V. dad on this one . . . . I just couldn’t help myself, though. I mean look at that cover. Adorable! And then when I discovered it was about not only one of my favorite things . . . . But also about a super-rich family who lost all of their money and whose only hope to regain their fortune was by returning to China and laying claim on some old-but-not-forgotten land, I wa Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ I really should have followed the advice of America’s favorite T.V. dad on this one . . . . I just couldn’t help myself, though. I mean look at that cover. Adorable! And then when I discovered it was about not only one of my favorite things . . . . But also about a super-rich family who lost all of their money and whose only hope to regain their fortune was by returning to China and laying claim on some old-but-not-forgotten land, I was hoping for something along these lines . . . . Sadly that wasn’t what I ended up getting. The Wangs vs. The World had a lot of potential. The patriarch, Charles, had “turned shit (or in this case urea) into two hundred million dollars’ worth of Shinola” by creating a cosmetics empire . . . . Before losing his ass (and house, cars, jewels, clothes, you name it) due to a bad business decision. When Charles was presented as sort of a stereotype/cardboard cutout of a character, I wasn’t too concerned. I figured the story would focus mainly on his three children. Then I met them . . . . And the son was even worse! An unfunny want-to-be comedian. #snore The only saving grace was the stepmother, Barbra . . . . Ha! I’m kidding. She was super blah too. It’s a shame this book fell so flat for me, but it did. It’s probably a good practice that any time a publicity statement labels a book as “hilarious” said book actually contain at least some humor. If you’re looking for something over-the-top and funny, pick up Crazy Rich Asians instead. That one was a hoot.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ellie

    What a wonderful book; one of the most satisfying reads I've had in a while. The Wangs are a family of five: Charles, the father, a wealthy manufacturer of cosmetics living in Los Angelos, and his children, Saina, a New York-based artist who, on the heels of a scandalous show has retreated to a small town in upstate New York, Andrew, the college student aiming for a career as a stand-up comedian, and Grace, the teenager with a fashion blog, as direct and fresh as she is. And then there's Barbra ( What a wonderful book; one of the most satisfying reads I've had in a while. The Wangs are a family of five: Charles, the father, a wealthy manufacturer of cosmetics living in Los Angelos, and his children, Saina, a New York-based artist who, on the heels of a scandalous show has retreated to a small town in upstate New York, Andrew, the college student aiming for a career as a stand-up comedian, and Grace, the teenager with a fashion blog, as direct and fresh as she is. And then there's Barbra (yes, like Streisand, from whom she took the name), Charles' second wife and the stepmother of the children. All living their lives more or less happily when, following the crash of 2008, Charles loses everything and goes bankrupt. So Charles takes his wife and two younger children in an old car he'd given to his servant (so it's the only one that hasn't been repossessed) and heads across the country to join his oldest daughter. In the course of the journey, the Wangs rediscover themselves, as individuals and as a family. I loved the story. I especially loved the characters. In many ways, when described, they sound like ordinary book characters but they are each fresh and fully realized, fully human. I loved Saina, trying to recreate her life following her fall from grace from the art world, never really understanding what happened; I loved Grace, young and impulsive and self-absorbed but delightful. I even grew to love Charles, so full of himself (and the land he lost in China to first the Japanese and then the Communists). They are a deeply flawed and ultimately loving family and I loved being a part of them for the few hours it took to read this lovely book. The book is often hilarious-Andrew trying out his awful comedic routine in a speak easy in New Orleans before his new (much older) girlfriend; Grace leaving her boarding school in a fit of pique, scene after scene made me laugh out loud. But it also, ultimately, became a moving tribute to family and the connections we make with each other, often awkwardly and hesitantly. And these connections turn out to be the truest meaning of all that we do. I also enjoyed the author's portrait of the millennial United States, greedy and desperate and the glimpse of New World China. I thank NetGalley, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Jade Chang for the opportunity to read this wonderful book in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Laurie Anderson

    I really enjoyed this story. It took a couple of turns I wasn't expecting and I loved that. The multiple points of view were handled skillfully, as are the dialog, and layers of interwoven personal dramas. I so enjoyed the honesty and tenderness of the family, and the shifting scenery. I really liked the occasionally phrases and peeks of Mandarin. I wish that the book hadn't ended quite to suddenly - another 6- 80 pages would have been much more to my liking. But all in all, this is an incredibl I really enjoyed this story. It took a couple of turns I wasn't expecting and I loved that. The multiple points of view were handled skillfully, as are the dialog, and layers of interwoven personal dramas. I so enjoyed the honesty and tenderness of the family, and the shifting scenery. I really liked the occasionally phrases and peeks of Mandarin. I wish that the book hadn't ended quite to suddenly - another 6- 80 pages would have been much more to my liking. But all in all, this is an incredible debut novel.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Maxwell

    I expected a lot more from this book, and it's often those books that are the most disappointing. But I would've rather hated this book than feel apathetic towards it, as I do. I appreciate what the book was trying to do; it's core message and overall tone were interesting and generally enjoyable. However, the execution was bizarre. There are whole chapters, even whole plots, that I felt were unnecessary or vague in that they didn't seem to contribute to the through line of the novel. And while I expected a lot more from this book, and it's often those books that are the most disappointing. But I would've rather hated this book than feel apathetic towards it, as I do. I appreciate what the book was trying to do; it's core message and overall tone were interesting and generally enjoyable. However, the execution was bizarre. There are whole chapters, even whole plots, that I felt were unnecessary or vague in that they didn't seem to contribute to the through line of the novel. And while reading these tangential moments, I found my mind wandering. Then I'd be captivated again by a small moment or silly scene that—albeit, totally absurd and mind-boggling—brought me back in to the story. It was a strange reading experience, and one that I might not have followed through with had I not been reading the book with friends. I can't blanket recommend this book; in fact, I'm not sure what type of reader I'd recommend this book to. If it sounds interesting to you, give it a shot. I think most people will know how they feel within the first 50 pages.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    It is 2008 and the Wang family have just lost all their money and their company due to the not so great decisions made by their father, Charles. Charles and his wife Barbra pick up the youngest two children and embark on a cross-country journey to Saina's place, the oldest daughter. There seem to have been several books in this one, one that I enjoyed and one that I really really didn't. I liked the beginning and the end and thought the middle would drag on forever. I liked Saina and Grace and w It is 2008 and the Wang family have just lost all their money and their company due to the not so great decisions made by their father, Charles. Charles and his wife Barbra pick up the youngest two children and embark on a cross-country journey to Saina's place, the oldest daughter. There seem to have been several books in this one, one that I enjoyed and one that I really really didn't. I liked the beginning and the end and thought the middle would drag on forever. I liked Saina and Grace and would have loved to spend more time with them, I was indifferent towards Barbra and I hated Andrew and Charles and could never get to the end of their sections fast enough. I thought the injections on being an immigrant were intriguing and the talk about economics and art lacked depth (seriously lacked depth). By far the best part about this book is Grace. She is brilliant, funny, clever and relatable. Although she is 16 she shows way more depth and maturity than the rest of the family. Saina was great as well, the way she struggled with trying to find herself again after her world imploded around her was relatable and original. If the whole book had been from hers and Grace's perspective I would have liked it a lot more than I did. But unfortunately Charles seems to be the emotional heart of this tale and I could not warm to him as a character, moreover he seemed to be more of a caricature than a fully fleshed-out character. Overall, I am glad I stuck with the book till the end (I wasn't sure I would make it) because the way the story ends for Saina and Grace was satisfying, but large parts of this book sadly did not work for me at all. ___ I received an arc courtesy of NetGalley and Penguin Books UK in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for that!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Strasnick

    This book has EVERYTHING: riches! Rags! It girls! Art stars! Stand-up comedians! Organic farmers! Helicopters! Virgins! Sex! Boarding school bitches! It's smart and hilarious and touching and true. Someone nominate Jade Chang for a Pulitzer.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Taryn Pierson

    Books about rich people make me feel conflicted, especially books like this one, in which the richies lose all their riches. How sorry am I supposed to feel for these people, exactly? What am I supposed to do with all the brand name dropping, when I can't pronounce Hermes? Are Coach bags still cool? Maybe if I'd worried less about those questions and just focused on the characters, I might have had a better time with The Wangs vs. the World. Little sister Grace is freewheeling and charming, and b Books about rich people make me feel conflicted, especially books like this one, in which the richies lose all their riches. How sorry am I supposed to feel for these people, exactly? What am I supposed to do with all the brand name dropping, when I can't pronounce Hermes? Are Coach bags still cool? Maybe if I'd worried less about those questions and just focused on the characters, I might have had a better time with The Wangs vs. the World. Little sister Grace is freewheeling and charming, and brother Andrew is refreshingly naïve and earnest. Older sister Saina's cluelessness in her romantic life grated, though, and family patriarch Charles Wang never quite won me over, even though I think he was supposed to. That might have been my problem—I never fully bought in or cared what happened to these characters. The plot felt aimless at times, much like the family's cross-country journey in their old Mercedes. Anytime a book takes me over a week to read, it's not a good sign—I had a hard time making myself pick it back up each time I put it down. Still, I'm glad I had the opportunity to read it, since it's a highly-promoted fall title and I'm sure it will be one of those talked-about books of the season. I always hate to be left out of things. (Maybe I know what it's like to be rich after all...) With regards to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Goodreads for the advance copy, which I was lucky enough to win in a recent giveaway. On sale October 4. More book recommendations by me at www.readingwithhippos.com

  15. 4 out of 5

    Obsidian

    Seriously. This book is awful. I read that this was supposed to be funny (I didn't laugh at all) and hey if you want to read about a self absorbed rich family who consist of Chinese people, I say go read Crazy Rich Asians instead. One of this books's genres on Goodreads is "Abandoned" so I should have looked into that before I spent money on this thing. This book takes place in 2008, of course for us Americans, we know that is when the housing bubble in the US burst, and then we had a recession Seriously. This book is awful. I read that this was supposed to be funny (I didn't laugh at all) and hey if you want to read about a self absorbed rich family who consist of Chinese people, I say go read Crazy Rich Asians instead. One of this books's genres on Goodreads is "Abandoned" so I should have looked into that before I spent money on this thing. This book takes place in 2008, of course for us Americans, we know that is when the housing bubble in the US burst, and then we had a recession set in and millions of people were without work and or lost their homes. "The Wangs Vs the World" follows a millionaire (maybe billionaire) family living in L.A. who lose everything when the family patriarch (Charles Wang) decides to put up his home and businesses as collateral to start a new line of makeup products. When the economy takes a tumble, Charles decides he will pack up his second wife (Barbra) and pick up his two kids who are at school (Grace and Andrew) and make his way to his oldest daughter's (Saina) home in Helios, New York. We get not only Charles' POV during this mess of a book, but also Grace, Andrew, Barbra, and even the POV of the freaking car they are riding in for the majority of this road trip. I can honestly say that I didn't care for one character at all. These people suck. Charles is just a terrible father and husband. It's understood he has affairs, but you know, don't get upset about that. That's just the world or something. Barbra was obsessed with Charles when she knew him in China and just bides her time to get him after his first wife dies in the weirdest accident ever. She's not worried about being a mother to his children that he had with his first wife and is just barely present it seems in anyone's life. Saina was okay at first, but she's dumb when it comes to love and it gets old reading about her romance problems. Andrew was a hot mess. I just...reading about someone's comic stand-up is not interesting. At all. Wait, I take that back, I did laugh while reading Chelsea Handler's books, so maybe once again it's just that this book is not funny. Grace was inoffensive. I wish I cared more, but honestly since the whole rest of their family was exhausting, I just wanted to be done with them all. The writing was not that great. Between the run on sentences that lasted whole freaking paragraphs sometimes which was bad enough; Chang also had some dialogue I think either in Cantonese or Mandarin and doesn't translate it. I say I think since once again she doesn't bother to translate what people are saying. Also, FYI authors, there is nothing endearing about reading how prejudiced and racist in some cases the whole family was about people who were African American. Also be prepared to read about how if you have a mixed race kid who is cute, that makes it okay to be with a black man or woman. Shoot they even had some comments towards white people. I just didn't find any of it clever. I found myself cringing throughout and sighing. Also there is a point in the story where Chang goes into a fixed rate loan he takes out which took me out of the story. Dumb me, but didn't the whole housing crisis happen cause people everywhere had adjustable rate mortgages that overnight went from being several hundred dollars to several thousand? It just didn't even make sense to me why Charles took out a loan when he supposedly had money to burn. The book settings moves around a lot, the family is traveling by car from California to New York and all I have to say is that the route they take seemed to be making the trip longer, but I am too lazy to look up potential routes. That is way too much effort for me to be putting in towards a book I seriously disliked. The action at one case even moves to China. The ending was just a question mark to me. I don't know what I was supposed to think and honestly I didn't care. I was glad to be done with this book so I can freaking count it towards Booklikes-opoly. FYI, that is the only reason I kept up with this. Electronic edition: 368 pages (via Goodreads) 201 to 400 pages: $3.00 Bank: $23.00

  16. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Important Disclaimer: Once I spent an entire day at Great America with this author. As I would expect based on that experience, this book is funny, insightful, and a real good time. I loved how sharply all of the characters were drawn - especially Saina and Grace - and how effortlessly the backstory was woven into the plot. As the Wangs travel across the country, you're slowly drawn into their life before and after the crash. The details of Saina's art shows and Grace's clothing labels, juxtapos Important Disclaimer: Once I spent an entire day at Great America with this author. As I would expect based on that experience, this book is funny, insightful, and a real good time. I loved how sharply all of the characters were drawn - especially Saina and Grace - and how effortlessly the backstory was woven into the plot. As the Wangs travel across the country, you're slowly drawn into their life before and after the crash. The details of Saina's art shows and Grace's clothing labels, juxtaposed with Charles's reflections on his particular immigrant experience, all feel so authentic and can thus be slyly funny (knowing the exact and correct reaction that Jezebel would have to the refugee art show made me laugh out loud). Of course it's hard to relate to the type of wealth that the Wangs enjoy before their ignominious fall, but that's offset by, for example, how accurately Saina's douchebag boyfriend is portrayed: your terrible college boyfriend might not have been a success in the art scene, but he sure did play on your emotions in the same infuriating way. There were a couple of scenes in the book that didn't quite work for me, (view spoiler)[particularly the interaction between the economics professor and Andrew's class (hide spoiler)] , but overall I really loved this. Highly recommended!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    2.5. This had moments of brilliance but overall it fell flat for me.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    "Uproariously funny" this was not. Not even mildly funny, really. This read like a less-interesting The Nest, with a similar message--when you lose it all, you discover what really matters. Characters were unlikable (minus the exuberant, optimistic patriarch Charles Wang; I had a soft spot for him). I appreciated Chang flipping a lot of immigrant stereotypes upside down, and all of the research she put into such different areas--the art scene, the financial collapse, stand-up comedy, and fashion- "Uproariously funny" this was not. Not even mildly funny, really. This read like a less-interesting The Nest, with a similar message--when you lose it all, you discover what really matters. Characters were unlikable (minus the exuberant, optimistic patriarch Charles Wang; I had a soft spot for him). I appreciated Chang flipping a lot of immigrant stereotypes upside down, and all of the research she put into such different areas--the art scene, the financial collapse, stand-up comedy, and fashion--but in the end, I found this a slow, painful read when all I was hoping for was a light page-turner.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lark Benobi

    I was enjoying getting to know the characters but I kept getting the feeling they were forcing themselves on me, like party crashers--a little too talkative, a little too zany, a little too obsessed with having a good time at my expense. Whatever. I pressed on. Then a point came when an unlikely and violent and tragic accident was handled with such a casual/sitcom-y lightness that my willingness to invest in the novel and its characters dropped like a stone. The novel never quite recovered for m I was enjoying getting to know the characters but I kept getting the feeling they were forcing themselves on me, like party crashers--a little too talkative, a little too zany, a little too obsessed with having a good time at my expense. Whatever. I pressed on. Then a point came when an unlikely and violent and tragic accident was handled with such a casual/sitcom-y lightness that my willingness to invest in the novel and its characters dropped like a stone. The novel never quite recovered for me after that--I tried to be ok with that scene and to get over my censure of it--a scene that didn't really even need to be there to begin with, for the novel to work--but instead I ended up being sensitized to other examples of scenes and events that also didn't really need to be there...which is unfair to any novel, especially one as peripatetic as this one is.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    This is a riches to rags story about the dysfunctional Wangs, a Chinese family who lose it all and decide to take a road trip across America. This book is getting a lot of buzz and is portrayed as hilarious so I had high expectations. It is not necessarily a bad book and it is inventive, but it was not my kind of humor, I found the narrative too slow and I wasn’t interested in its shallow characters. I often found myself skimming.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    So many evocative details, and great scenes that stayed with me long after I finished reading them-- like the moment in the lecture room at ASU, or the lovely but rare occasions when the reader hears from the Mercedes. Separately- in college I read Age of Innocence many times. Unexpectedly and to my delight, Barbra reminded me of May Archer.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I read this in about two days and cackled with delight almost the whole time. Though I loved it for universal reasons (well-developed characters, familial relationships, and humor), it was also an incredible relief to read an immigrant story not predicated on the degradation of immigrating. It also brought home how I’ve spent actual decades reading all the books without ever having experienced the magic of very specific cultural recognition until now. What a world we live in. My favorite statemen I read this in about two days and cackled with delight almost the whole time. Though I loved it for universal reasons (well-developed characters, familial relationships, and humor), it was also an incredible relief to read an immigrant story not predicated on the degradation of immigrating. It also brought home how I’ve spent actual decades reading all the books without ever having experienced the magic of very specific cultural recognition until now. What a world we live in. My favorite statement on race from the book (major spoiler alert): (view spoiler)[“Daddy doesn’t want to die. Life is too much fun! Always new things in life!” (hide spoiler)] First, does anyone else’s parents have sad teenage immigration stories involving ice cream? Are they having a good time now? Growing up, a lot of my friends had parents who worked so hard it was impossible to imagine them enjoying life in any way. Did I have it wrong? Part of loving the way The Wangs handles race is the way it has both everything and nothing to do with daily life. I like thinking there’s also a way in which the burden of immigrating didn’t entirely define my parents’ lives - I think they’d both agree with Charles Wang’s (view spoiler)[deathbed (hide spoiler)] statement. Either way, reading these lines made me feel really happy and full of hope. P.S. I know and really like this author.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Alan

    Charles Wong came from China to America and grew a fortune in the make-up business. Unfortunately, he makes a few stumbles with his business in 2008 when the economy built on false mortgages comes crashing down, and he loses everything—his house, the cars, all his factories. He has three children from his first wife, who died eight weeks after the birth of their last child. The kids have never known deprivation, which is perhaps why all of them feel free to pursue the arts—and use their money to Charles Wong came from China to America and grew a fortune in the make-up business. Unfortunately, he makes a few stumbles with his business in 2008 when the economy built on false mortgages comes crashing down, and he loses everything—his house, the cars, all his factories. He has three children from his first wife, who died eight weeks after the birth of their last child. The kids have never known deprivation, which is perhaps why all of them feel free to pursue the arts—and use their money to do so. Saina is an artist whose fourth show not just bombed but had people protesting in the streets. At the same time her career is in shambles, her fiancé leaves her for his pregnant girlfriend, the daughter of a wealthy mattress magnet. Saina sells her Manhattan loft at a huge loss and retreats to a farmhouse in upstate New York, thinking she’ll farm organic vegetables—except she has no idea how. But the house just happens to have room for her entire family. Charles and Barbra, the children’s stepmother, begin in LA. The plan is to drive across country to Saina’s with a few stops along the way. (And then Charles thinks he’ll go to China and reclaim family land stolen by the Communists.) The first stop is to pick up his 16-year-old daughter Grace, who he shipped off to boarding school two years earlier when she fell in love with a boy. Grace is a typical teenager, obsessed with her fashion blog, Style & Grace. The next stop is Arizona State University, where his 21-year-old son Andrew goes to school. Andrew isn’t serious about this studies because he wants to be a stand-up comedian. We see Andrew perform. The first few times we know the audience hates him, but even the time when he allegedly did well, I found reading his routine cringe-worthy. Obviously stand-up is a very different medium than novel writing, but it was painful, so I had to speed read through it. The book wasn’t as funny as I expected it to be by the description, but I did think the writing was wonderful, and it was an intriguing perspective on that time in our nation’s history told through the story of immigrants Charles and Barbra and three adults or almost-adults who grew up here and have never wanted for anything—they have no idea how to budget, etc. because they never had to. This is a fun, compelling read. For more of my reviews, please visit: http://theresaalan.net/blog/

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    The first line of the blurb had me: A hilarious debut about an immigrant Chinese family. Unfortunately I didn’t find the book at all hilarious. But someone did, as this novel seems to be getting a huge publicity splash. And I can see why—it’s full of glitz, insider New York art scene talk (with a metric butt-ton of name dropping), and rich people doing rich people things. That alone ought to guarantee a movie deal. The Wangs discover that Charlie, the paterfamilias, who came from Taiwan and built The first line of the blurb had me: A hilarious debut about an immigrant Chinese family. Unfortunately I didn’t find the book at all hilarious. But someone did, as this novel seems to be getting a huge publicity splash. And I can see why—it’s full of glitz, insider New York art scene talk (with a metric butt-ton of name dropping), and rich people doing rich people things. That alone ought to guarantee a movie deal. The Wangs discover that Charlie, the paterfamilias, who came from Taiwan and built a makeup empire on using urea (from the many mentions, I gathered we were to find this funny as well as symbolic), is now bankrupt. Bad business decisions cause him to lose it all, as he’s not quite rich enough to declare bankruptcy and walk away with his millions protected, leaving his creditors, workers, and poor families totally shafted, like certain politicians. He thinks the only way out is to go live with his eldest daughter, whose trust fund is protected (or is it?) while he recruits himself to go back to China and reclaim the family land. The book was most interesting to me when talking about China, Chinese in America, and how the Wangs see the world. Charlie states twice, for example, that Native Americans are simply Chinese people who wandered away from the homeland a long, long time ago. He speaks pidgin English because who cares what white people think, when China’s population and its economic strength is the world. His teenage son Andrew, who wants to be a standup comedian, writes material about Asians and whites—without white POV being default. Charlie’s sex life was much less interesting, especially his relationships with his two wives. There was a lot of repetition about that before something finally changed, and the transition seemed to come out of nowhere, with a clue so after-the-fact (view spoiler)[Charlie having kept Barbra’s ID card all those years (hide spoiler)] that it felt like it had been shoved in to shore up an unconvincing dynamic. We spend many chapters with his three kids, beginning with Saina, the high end New York artist. There are some long screeds that drop hip names in the art world, but the focus stays for a protracted time on her relationship problems, which again I found repetitive, and then unconvincing at the sudden change near the end. Then there is Andrew, the son, seventeen and saving himself sexually for love. He gets a weird interlude in New Orleans, but that was after a very long political rant at his university put in the mouth of a professor about the causes of the 2008 crash—without, of course, any knowledge of the Wells Fargo CEO’s pirate tactics only recently revealed. Finally there was sixteen year old Grace, whose personality changed from chapter to chapter. In the beginning she read very much like a tiresome spoiled rich kid, but that sharply observed kid began to morph in odd ways after the family took off cross country. Overall, I thought the book a hot mess. Hot because it was packed with promising, and fascinating, moments, juxtaposed against awkward first novel tropes. For example, the pages-long rants about current politics, cultural, and social situations put in the mouths of characters, as everyone sat around and listened, before the story would move on more naturally. Then there were the chapters from the point of view of the car the family drove in. These repeated what we already knew about the characters, and slowed the pacing. That seems to me the sort of first novel grandstanding that a sharper editorial eye would leave on the cutting room floor. Finally, the novel spent so much time establishing the familial dysfunctions that the ending, with the climax kept off-screen, and reported on, felt very much like the authorial hand smacking the puppets toward the (view spoiler)[ happy but confusingly ambiguous (hide spoiler)] ending, rather than showing growth all the way through, though there were insightful single lines here and there. But those caveats aside (and I realize that many readers are going to totally disagree) I found the writing sharp, vivid, wisecrackingly ironic, and sometimes surprisingly tender. I also enjoyed all the Chinese mixed in with the English. I thought Chang did a good job of conveying meaning, while still jolting the English reader into the back seat comprehension-wise, a subtle reminder that nope, the white POV is not the universal default. I look forward to seeing what Chang writes next. Copy provided by NetGalley

  25. 5 out of 5

    Coleen (The Book Ramblings)

    The Wangs vs. the World is Jade Chang’s debut novel, released in early October with all the book circling social media. It was One of Entertainment Weekly’s Most Anticipated Titles of 2016, and Barnes & Noble’s Discover Pick of Fall 2016. It is about Charles Wang, an immigrant businessman who built a cosmetics company and made a fortune building that empire, however he loses it all (right down to his last cent) when the financial crisis hit the United States in 2008. Being the prideful, self The Wangs vs. the World is Jade Chang’s debut novel, released in early October with all the book circling social media. It was One of Entertainment Weekly’s Most Anticipated Titles of 2016, and Barnes & Noble’s Discover Pick of Fall 2016. It is about Charles Wang, an immigrant businessman who built a cosmetics company and made a fortune building that empire, however he loses it all (right down to his last cent) when the financial crisis hit the United States in 2008. Being the prideful, self-made man that he is, he makes the decision that he wants to attempt to reclaim his family’s ancestral lands in China. Before that, he decides to take his family on a road-trip across America to pick up their oldest daughter, who is hiding in upstate New York due to a fallen career of her own. Being one of the latest books out with a premise revolving around the economic downfall in 2008, I had The Wangs vs. the World on my anticipated reads of this year. It sounded like a humorous, touching riches-to-rags debut, but it didn’t live up to what I was expecting. It was a slow build-up in the beginning, which made it a bit of a struggle to get into, but it did pick up as the story furthered along. I thought the premise was interesting, but the execution was not as promising. There were parts in the novel that had lost my interest, or just didn’t fit into playing a role into the story-telling, in my opinion. However, while I did not like this book as much as I hoped, there were other aspects that made up for it–the characters being just that. I thought the variety of personalities and how well done they were made for a wild ride through the road trip with the Wang family. The characters are definitely what kept me reading, and while it wasn’t a favorite or one that I would pick up again, it was an entertaining adventure with family drama. I see why other readers loved The Wangs vs. the World, it just wasn’t for me. I received a copy in exchange for an unbiased review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Wappler

    This wildly entertaining novel -- and I mean entertaining on a movie level that rarely a book can match, where you're laughing, then struck in the gut, then swelling with admiration for the precise and unforgettable way Jade nails the art world, or a rich man's wounded arrogance, or a teen girl's vacillations between quasi-suicidal thoughts one minute and then her fashion blog the next --will not only be your steadfast companion for the time you're reading it, but you'll miss it when you're done This wildly entertaining novel -- and I mean entertaining on a movie level that rarely a book can match, where you're laughing, then struck in the gut, then swelling with admiration for the precise and unforgettable way Jade nails the art world, or a rich man's wounded arrogance, or a teen girl's vacillations between quasi-suicidal thoughts one minute and then her fashion blog the next --will not only be your steadfast companion for the time you're reading it, but you'll miss it when you're done. You'll walk down the street and ask yourself, Where are the Wangs right now? Truth is they're permanent guests in the spare bedroom of your imagination, using up all your fancy shampoo. You won't ever want these potently American concoctions to leave.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Helen Marquis

    Loved, loved, loved this book! Meet the Wangs, who put the fun in dysfunctional in this rags-to-riches-and-back-again story. The father is a proud immigrant whose pride comes before his fall, as he build a cosmetics empire only to watch it crumble. His three children Saina (a former art world darling who has disappeared from public life after a disastrous controversial show), Andrew (a wannabe comedian who isn't very funny) and Grace (a style blogger trying to make a name for herself) are brough Loved, loved, loved this book! Meet the Wangs, who put the fun in dysfunctional in this rags-to-riches-and-back-again story. The father is a proud immigrant whose pride comes before his fall, as he build a cosmetics empire only to watch it crumble. His three children Saina (a former art world darling who has disappeared from public life after a disastrous controversial show), Andrew (a wannabe comedian who isn't very funny) and Grace (a style blogger trying to make a name for herself) are brought together by their father as he collects Grace and Andrew from their respective homes and takes them to Saina's house, along with their stepmother Barbra. Along the way, we learn their backstories, including rises and falls, loves lost and gained and dreams of success. This is a hugely entertaining book, wonderfully written and a truly incredible debut from Chang - she writes with incredible confidence, creating rich layered characters that you'll fall in love with. I can't recommend this highly enough!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Very enjoyable! A beautiful, engrossing family novel. Makes me wish I had siblings... Disclaimer, though: I TWICE served as Tallymaster when the author hosted LitQuiz!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Aimal (Bookshelves & Paperbacks)

    I received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks so much to the publisher for granting me the opportunity to read an ARC of this. Charles Wang moved to America from China with nothing. And with nothing but a brain made for success, and just a little bit of knowledge about manure, he built himself a multi-million dollar cosmetics empire. He has three children: Saina is a New York-based artist who’s juggling her love life. Andrew’s in university and is aspiring to be a st I received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks so much to the publisher for granting me the opportunity to read an ARC of this. Charles Wang moved to America from China with nothing. And with nothing but a brain made for success, and just a little bit of knowledge about manure, he built himself a multi-million dollar cosmetics empire. He has three children: Saina is a New York-based artist who’s juggling her love life. Andrew’s in university and is aspiring to be a stand-up comedian, and Grace is still in high school, but her sense of style and fashion blog dominate her life more than academics ever could. When the financial crisis comes rolling into town, Charles’s reluctance to listen to his financial advisors proves to be his downfall; in a blink of an eye, Charles loses everything: his house, his estates, his companies, even his car. In an effort to gather what’s remaining of his pride, he decides to take his family back to China where his ancestral lands are surely awaiting his return. And so begins a road trip from Los Angeles to New York, in a beat-up car with a family contained inside that has no idea what’s in store for them. You know sometimes you read a synopsis, and you are sure that you need the book in your life? The Wangs vs. the World was that book for me. It sounded like a hilarious, light-hearted read revolving around the sheer entertainment of the riches-to-rags trope, with a heart-warming tale about the importance of family at its core. I think that was my problem with this book: I went into it with pre-conceived notions about what I would receive. And while it did deliver on some of these fronts, the overall experience was severely underwhelming. For starters, this is not a riches-to-rags novel. I wanted to see these rich, spoiled kids try to navigate a world where you’re not handed everything on a silver platter. I wanted to see them struggle with their new lifestyle, and we didn’t get any of that. If it had even been a little bit of the book, I might have enjoyed it more instead of just enjoying one scene here, another over there. The book promises some laughs, and you get them. Chang writes with snark. Her language is often crude, but never gratuitously so. She has a talent when it comes to hooks. This book starts off by clearly establishing Chang’s voice- just the right amount of vulgar, just the right amount of intelligent snark. Case and point: “America was the worst part of it because America, that fickle bitch, used to love Charles Wang.” (Please note that this is quoted from an ARC, and might not be in the final product.) But despite having a strong, intelligent voice, and despite its promising synopsis, this novel fell flat. I suspect that has something to do with the characters. I won’t say that they were one-dimensional or flat, because that is not true. In fact, they felt quite like real people- people that I interact with almost every day. But I just didn’t like them, and I don’t think that was the intention here. I didn’t care about their passions, or their motivations in life. I didn’t relate to them, and so I wasn’t immersed in the experience. Watching characters’ lives unfold in front of your eyes while you’re stuck behind a thick wall perforated with holes- that’s what this book felt like. You know the people on the other side are real, and you know most of what is going on, but you just can’t get to them. Ultimately, there are better things in life than looking into these people’s lives, so looking at them becomes a chore rather than an enjoyment. Which is how I felt by the 50% mark of the book- I was only reading to get to the end, rather than reading to find out what happened next. With characters out of the way, let’s talk about the plot. There was none. If you were to ask me what this book was about, I would not be able to tell you anything apart from what I just stated above as the synopsis. Most of that happens within the first 25% of the novel, and after that mark, it’s a lot of introspection on the characters’ parts, a lot of dialogue, a lot of flashbacks that don’t seem to contribute anything to the story, but are rather used as devices to flesh out the characters. You can argue that there was a climax, but it can hardly be called that. And despite there being several different storylines in play, I can’t really say that I was invested in even one of them. However, I can appreciate The Wangs. vs the World for its thematic material. I enjoyed looking at the Wangs’s family dynamics; I have grown so accustomed to reading about broken, fractured families in American literature, and I have never related to that. It was refreshing to see family dynamics that I could see myself in: overbearing parents who ultimately love you more than anything else in the world, close relationships with siblings, the realization that home is where your family is. That’s not something that I see too often in the books that I read, so it was much-needed. Moreover, Jade Chang explores things like micro aggressions, the myth of the model minority, racial stereotypes, etc. It so aptly depicts the love-hate relationship many of us have with America. And not only that, but these themes were seamlessly integrated into the novel without ever seeming in-your-face. What did seem in-your-face was the unapologetic use of untranslated Chinese, which I saw many complaints about on the Goodreads page, but I don’t complain. I felt it was done intentionally- maybe even making a statement, that I fully admired. Sure, it was a little alarming to be missing the exact meaning of some parts of the text, but that’s okay. No writer should have to accommodate a reader who is reading a galley on a digital device, but is feeling too entitled to look up the translations of a few words. Ultimately, I would recommend this book to anyone who is mainly concerned with writing style and a compelling voice, rather than the plot. If you are someone who looks at themes before anything else in a novel, this is for you. And if you are a person who can enjoy a book without necessarily feeling anything towards the characters, you will be fine. In other words, this book has a lot going for it – it just wasn’t for me. Originally posted on Bookshelves & Paperbacks. Find me elsewhere: Bloglovin' | Book Blog | Twitter | Bookstagram | Tumblr | Facebook

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alena

    This novel rushed at me like a gust of fresh air – funny, irreverent, timely and smart. I was hooked from the first few paragraphs. “There was no arguing it. History has started fucking Charles Wang, and America had finished the job.” The Wangs are an American success story gone horribly wrong. Charles, exiled from China via Taiwan, arrives in America, makes his millions and within 30 years loses it all. He narrates the next few days along with his three children and his second wife. Each of their This novel rushed at me like a gust of fresh air – funny, irreverent, timely and smart. I was hooked from the first few paragraphs. “There was no arguing it. History has started fucking Charles Wang, and America had finished the job.” The Wangs are an American success story gone horribly wrong. Charles, exiled from China via Taiwan, arrives in America, makes his millions and within 30 years loses it all. He narrates the next few days along with his three children and his second wife. Each of their stories is well developed and interesting, all held together by some sense of bewilderment. “But we can only see the world through our own half-blind eyes, set in our own stupid heads, back by our own self-obsessed brains…” Their family drama would have been enough for a really good novel, but Chang goes further to make a great book. She brings in immigration, economics, art and fashion in very real and interesting ways. "The nod of recognition that such a purse elicited from a few equally solvent others was an unimpeachable sort of currency, not subject to market fluctuations or whims of fashion. The thick, buttery leather and polished gold clasp were enough to lend substance to her being, the purse became an axis around which the whole chaotic works would spin. Wealth, Barbra knew, should belong to those who understood its power." I was impressed that all these threads came together seamlessly, never with that annoying feeling of an author trying to prove how smart she is, but instead in ways that made sense for each character. Without ever being pulled out of the storytelling I found myself stopping to think and to appreciate. I especially loved the self-aware skewering of the art world. “How many times did people have to prove that anything could be art before we could finally admit that very little was actually art?” Fast, funny and smart. I highly recommend.

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