Friday, February 4, 2011



The controversial memoir of a Chinese mother's strict parenting methods designed to produce stereotypically overachieving Asian kids.


Chua, the daughter of Chinese immigrants to the USA, writes about the extreme methods she used to turn her young daughters into musical prodigies. She spent countless hours fighting with them over their instruments, forcing them to practice on vacation, and driving hours each day to get them to the best music tutors in New England. Her standards and methods are fairly representative of the lengths to which many Chinese parents go to make sure their kids are successful, but they seem cruel and unusual from a Western perspective.

Although this book was promoted with an article calling Chinese mothers superior to Western parents, Chua does have a partial change of heart at the end of the book. Despite her micromanaging practices, you can see her very slowly realizing that she might not want her daughters to hate her after all. Most of the controversy on the web has surrounds the article, which does not include the part where Chua realizes she might have been too harsh. I would recommend reading the book before deciding what you think about it.

I think the book was written prematurely because the girls are still teenagers. It isn't yet clear whether their successes as adults will outweigh the potential damage to their relationship with their mother. I am also curious to see whether they will be able to demonstrate self-motivation, confidence, and creativity after having their lives so closely controlled by their mother. The book was also disappointingly short, especially for the price. I wish the author would have waited until her daughters were a bit older so time could truly tell how much wisdom there is in her methods.


I don't think the author has her own website, but here is her profile on Yale's faculty page: Amy Chua. There are plenty of articles about her on the web following her Wall Street Journal article: Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior


The Kindle edition was $12.99 and it was very short. This is the first time I've thought an e-book was overpriced.


Do you think it is more important to make sure your kids are successful or to make sure you have a good relationship with them?


  1. Wow, you actually read the book before passing judgment on it?
    Good for you.

    I cannot believe how many people are blasting this book without ever reading it.

  2. Well, I guess if it were me, I'd try and reward good behaviour rather than punishing for not trying enough. But hey, different horses, different courses, as they say.

    I recently got a kindle for xmas and I haven't paid for a book since. The real mystery is why you'd pay anything for a book at all.

  3. Wow, great review. It's true that you'll have to see what the girls accomplish into adulthood, as that's what parenting is all about. I'll have to check it out.

    New follower...

  4. Thanks for the comments guys! I think that moderation is usually the way to go. There will be different kinds of problems with extreme "Chinese" parenting and extreme "Western" parenting. The right way is probably somewhere in between, escpecially since every kid is different.

    In this case I think Chua's publicity department made a smart choice by emphasizing the harshest aspects of her story and not whatever lessons she learned. It got people like me to buy her overpriced book :).

    I'm a new follower of your blogs. Have a great weekend!

  5. I have read many blogs and forum posts about the Tiger mother article, so it was refreshing to read one about the book itself. I wish I had some of Amy Chua's drive and self-discipline, but my kids have (thus far) turned out pretty great in spite of my wing-it method of parenting, lol. I appreciated the heads-up on the length/cost; this is one I'll check out from the library.

  6. Wow, you read quickly! Thanks for reviewing this book. I think you're spot on when you say her PR team knows what they're doing and that moderation is generally the way forward. I've requested it at the library but think I have a long wait!

  7. Do you think it is more important to make sure your kids are successful or to make sure you have a good relationship with them?

    I think that when we realize that becoming a musical prodigy does not constitute any truly meaningful value of "success" (even if they are able to support themselves on it later in life), the dichotomy disappears.

  8. It was a great suggestion Alisha. Thanks!

    cjbanning, you bring up the vitally important point that you need to define "successful" in order to adequately answer this question.

  9. I decided the same thing as you: if I was going to have an opinion about this book I would have to read (my review is on my blog if you're interested). I agree with you that it was probably written prematurely. I wonder if this because she had to write it all out to get her head around it or if she thought she better get her version out there before the girls get old enough to write their own memoirs...?

    It was pretty short for the price. I was hoping for about 300+ pages. The Kindle price is the same as the paper back which seems a little unfair.

    Anyway, great review! Thanks.

  10. Thanks, Kathmeista. I just read your review and it's terrific. It will be interesting to see if the girls end up writing about their childhood, too.

    I'm glad I'm not the only expat book blogger in Asia. I'm enjoying your site very much.

  11. Shannon - Thank you! It was great finding you too, good to know I have company in the expat book blogging area :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...