Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother by Amy Chua (GRADE: A-)

I've just recently finished a surprising good book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua (pronounced Chew-uh).  I grade this book an A- (at the end of this book, I was tempted to read it again).

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is a memoir about a Chinese-American woman's thoughts and experiences as she attempts to raise her two daughters, Sophia and Lulu, the 'Chinese Way'.  Raising Sophia the 'Chinese Way' is easy; Sophia is compliant to her mother's wishes.  But Lulu, the younger of the two, has an independant and, later on, rebellious side to her.

I thought Amy Chua captured the voice of many Asian parents as she shared her thoughts, desires and vision for her children.  I found myself laughing out loud as I read this book because of how much her voice sounded like my own mother and even my own views.

If I were to describe this book in one word, I would say that it was 'honest'.  She does not describe herself as the perfect mother.  She has a desire to rasie her kids a certain way, what she calls the 'Chinese Way', and she describes when it works and when it doesn't and the struggles that she undergoes as she tries to follow her vision for her kids.

The writing was good.  It flowed and it was not distracting.  And the pacing was very good.  I found her story very engaging.

Tiger Mother is a coming-of-age story.  Amy Chua begins the story confident that the Chinese way is the correct way, not only to raise her kids but perhaps all kids.  She has some brief critisisms of Western parenting thoughout the book.  But as she raises her kids, she describes how her kids, in a way, humble her.  The end of the memoir was satisfying; there was a change in the moterh with respect to how she relates to her daughters, confident of the Chinese way at first but eventually reaching an equilibrium with her daughter's desires.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book, especially if you are an asian reader.  For the Western reader, I think that this book will give you an honest picture of how some asian parents think.  The operative word is HONEST.  She describes plainly her convictions and vision and, in some cases, the contradictions in her thinking.  I grade this book an A-; I did want to re-read this book as soon as I finished it and I may in the near future.  Good times.

NOTE: I especially liked the accounts at the end of teh book about how she wrote this book with her husband and daughters together.  Each account had to have the blessing of the people in the account to keep the integrity of the scene.

There has been a lot of talk about this book in the parenting community.  I don't think that it reads like a parenting manual but rather, the thoughts and emotions of a mother as she tries to fulfill a vision for her kids.  Not commenting on the vision itself but I admire that she HAS a vision for her kids.

At times I felt that she was courageous and at other times, crazy.  But doesn't that describe us all...

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