Rebecca C. (Opelika, AL)
Wisdom for all Parents!
I had so much fun reading this book. It is full of humor, great advice and special insights about parenting, Chinese style. I was surprised by the differences in "western" and Chinese parenting and delighted to know that I am less western than most. I was also delighted to know that raising children is a very difficult task for everyone. I highly recommend this book for parents, grandparents and anyone contemplating parenting or just wanting a great, entertaining book.
Deb Y. (Blanco, TX)
East vs West
I wish I had had this book when my children were small. I would have realized that a vast gulf exists between the Western way of parenting and the Eastern way. Amy Chua's writing is very effective in describing not only her parenting style and the effects it can have, but she also seems to be very honest about her role in success or failure in her children's lives. Even when I was cringing at her tactics, a small part of me was cheering her on. Do yourself a favor and read this rather elegant documentation of what to do and what, I feel, not to do. It reads quickly and is very much worth your time.
MaryEllen K. (Albany, NY)
This book provided a fascinating insider's look at the Chinese parenting style, as related by Amy Chua. I had always believed that I myself used an authoritative parenting style; however, in comparison to this Tiger mother, I look permissive! I personally feel that at times, she was far too demanding of her daughters Sophia and Lulu - and yet, I can hardly argue with the results she achieved. Aside from the girls' extraordinary academic and musical accomplishments, from all accounts they are also polite, interesting, and well spoken young women. It occurs to me that there is far more to the "Chinese versus western parenting" than meets the eye. At the surface level, it appears to be about controlling versus permissive. However, I translated it in my mind to INVOLVED versus apathetic. No matter how domineering or controlling Amy Chua was in her parenting style, the level of her involvement in her children's lives was incredible. I think any child, whether they realize it or not, would rather have an involved parent, than one who was disengaged and uninterested.
Arden A. (Lady Lake, FL)
The Mother is a Tiger
This is the most subjective review I have ever written, but I cannot be objective about this book. I find it very hard to relate to Amy Chua. She is a fiercely driven woman, and as such, she is fiercely driving her two daughters. The elder seems able to go with it, but the younger is rebellious. The author paints a picture of a household in perpetual upheaval, with acrimonious shouting contests between her and each of her daughters, mostly Lulu, the youngest, contrasting her methods as a “Chinese mother” to the comparatively passive and permissive style of western mothers. Yet she is a Chinese woman born in this country, married to a Jewish man, and almost psychopathic about being a “Chinese mother.” There is a disconnect here that I have a hard time grasping.
When I first started this book, I wasn't sure I would make it through; I couldn't believe what I was reading. Can any woman really, honestly believe this this kind of behavior is beneficial to her children? Is she really so disillusioned as to be able to convince herself and the reader that her way is the right way?
I managed to finish this book, since it is an engaging read; but I was shaking my head more often than not. Her husband is a saint, or an idiot, I'm not quite sure which. Both of them are extremely high achievers, yet somehow he seems normal and you wonder how he can stand by and watch this behavior toward his children. She has created a seemingly dysfunctional environment for her very talented girls. One wonders why she would “put it all out there” as she does in this book. To what end?
Susan S. (Lafayette, CA)
Not at all what I expected
Wow! This was definitely not what I expected, but definitely fascinating, and not like any other parenting memoir I have ever seen. From the way the book started I was expecting self-deprecating humor; what I got instead was a story of what the author refers to as Chinese-style parenting that was so harsh and restrictive that to me it bordered on child abuse. I kept wondering - does the author realize what she sounds like? By the end it's pretty clear that for the most part at least, she does, since we end up hearing about where her techniques failed as well as where they succeeded. I was undecided about how to rate this, until I realized that any possible downgrading of it by me would have been a critique of her parenting choices, as opposed to a critique of the book itself. The book is well-written, unusual, easy to read style-wise, and boy! does it pack a punch! It would provoke some extremely lively book group discussions.
Gwendolyn D. (Houston, TX)
Raising Children the Chinese Way
This book is Amy Chua's story about raising her daughters "the Chinese way." Chua explains how she was relentlessly strict with her daughters in order to get them to excel at school and music. She contrasts her method with "the Western way" of raising children. This contrast existed even in Chua's own family, as her husband Jed often disagreed with her methods: "I was already at a disadvantage because I had an American husband who believed that childhood should be fun."
Personally, I do not agree with Chua's harsh practices (including calling her children "garbage" and threatening to burn all their toys). Chua's descriptions of her daughters' punishing music practice schedules made me cringe. Fortunately, Chua learned to lighten up by the end of the book, but the first 150 pages are difficult to read. I feel sorry for Chua's children.
Katherine Y. (Albuquerque, NM)
Interesting Ideas for Book Group Discussions
While I disliked the author and her "Chinese parenting" techniques - I found myself ultimately sympathetic to what she was trying to do for her daughters. Some of the points made are simplistic (e.g. I am not sure that the children's book "The Five Chinese Brothers" is the best example the author could have cited on Chinese child-rearing techniques). I read many passages to my daughter as examples of how lucky she is to have sane, rational parent. While I would not recommend this book to a friend, book groups could have lots of interesting discussion about the benefits of pushing your children as the author does and it was an easy, engaging read.