16 April 2012

Review: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

Title: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
Author: Amy Chua
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Published: January 1st 2011
Source: Paperback (lent to me)

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Summary: After igniting a firestorm of debate across the nation, Amy Chua's daring, conversation-changing memoir is now in paperback.
At once provocative and laugh-out-loud funny, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" set off a global parenting debate with its story of one mother's journey in strict parenting. Amy Chua argues that Western parenting tries to respect and nurture children's individuality, while Chinese parents typically believe that arming children with skills, strong work habits, and inner confidence prepares them best for the future. Achingly honest and profoundly challenging, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" chronicles Chua's iron-willed decision to raise her daughters, Sophia and Lulu, the Chinese way-and the remarkable, sometimes heartbreaking results her choice inspires.

Review: I related very well to the experiences that Lulu and Sophia had. I really enjoyed reading it from a parent's point of view. Similar to Lulu and Sophia I had a love-hate relationship with my parents and still do since I am still living under their roof. The Chinese have a poor way of expressing themselves and do it in the harshest way possible. We have a saying that goes like this: To scold is to care and to hit is to love. So basically the mentality of Chinese mothers is that if a parent does not discipline a child, she does not love them. I think this was the overall idea that Amy Chua was trying to portray while at the same time showing off her parenting skills.
What I still don't get about Chinese parenting is the desire for their kids to be submissive. We as children are always expected to listen and obey what our parents commands us to do. For example: the scene where Lulu refuses to eat the Caviar in Moscow and Amy Chua keeps ordering her to try it. My parents were like that too, it is a Chinese thing to have control and power over your kids because their children owe their lives to them. Amy did not explain this well enough and I blame it on the length of the novel. It would have been great to know. :)

What I liked:
I loved how transparent and honest Amy Chua was writing this novel. She is not afraid to be judged by what she did and she admits it herself when she has gone overboard. This I believe is the Western influence on her. The Chinese are prideful and private, nobody believes in exposing family dynamics to strangers. Thus, I honestly feel that this is a really good book for an insight into an Asian's life. The first half was alright (a little too much showing off) but the second half was so much more emotional and I felt more connected to Amy. This book was interesting because it was pretty extreme and it really shows you the on-goings of a family of overachievers. They have always baffled me.

What I didn't really like:
There were a lot of facts and technicalities thrown around. Since I am not musically-inclined in any way I felt like I was missing out on something whenever I skimmed through the paragraphs about the technicalities of playing the violin and piano. Amy Chua also tosses a massive amount of information into the mix and a lot of it is pretty pointless but I guess its her auto-biography and she can do anything she wants. There was so much focus on Lulu, sometimes I find myself wishing to know what Sophia was doing in the meantime.

My rating:

Recommended for anyone who is curious about the life of an Asian and enjoys family drama.


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