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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."
Katherine Y. (Albuquerque, NM)
Interesting Ideas for Book Group Discussions
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.
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.
Marsha S. (Nags Head, NC)
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
I was mesmerized by this true-life account of Amy Chua's approach to child-rearing, and the resulting affect on her children, family and friends. She approached parenting as a Chinese mother, with a fierce and unwavering certainty that the harsh, strict discipline and insistence on obedience and hard work is the superior way to raise children. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of her reinforcement of the children's music lessons and the resulting accomplishments. Because of the jarring differences between Eastern and Western styles of parenting, I had to keep reminding myself that this is actually a true story and not a work of fiction. I think the book will appeal to anyone who has struggled with the challenges of raising a child and wondered about the effectiveness of their own approach to parenting. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is well-written, brutally honest, amusing, infuriating, and entertaining - I couldn't put it down!
Shirley D. (Amherst, MA)
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
"Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" was a delightful read, a charming story. The heart of it was a vivid picture of the conflict of child rearing – the Chinese way as opposed to the Western way. As a former teacher, I would say "yes!" to some of the Chinese values and "no" to the laxity as shown of the American easy "whatever" attitude. Then again, I would find myself disagreeing with the strictures of the Chinese mother but agreeing that there is a lack of discipline in American households.
Eileen P. (Pittsford, NY)
Creating remarkable children
Amy Chua presented an excellent picture of the differences, not only in the methods of education, but also in the final results. I hope there can be a meeting place between these two before the educational standing of the US will fall even further below its already low spot on the world's graph of educational standing.
In the beginning, Chua seems so confident of the superiority of her child-raising methodology that I was sure this book was going to be just another ruthless salvo in the Mommy Wars, but Chua's shining intelligence, devotion to her children, and her ability to admit her flaws turns this book into a wonderful meditation on what it means to do one's best. This past September, my son started college. While I was reading this book, I would read him passages and say 'This is what I was trying to do.' I can only hope that he has half as much resilience, self-confidence, and drive as Sophia and Lulu.
Melissa K. (Oviedo, Florida)
I enjoyed this book very much. It was interesting reading the perspective of parenting from an Asian mother. So many aspects of parenting is based on cultural norms. It was enlightening to learn how discipline is instilled in children in the Asian culture. Amy Chua was able to insert wisdom, and humor into her writing that made the book entertaining as well as insightful.
Cynthia B. (Puyallup, WA)
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
I'm torn on what rating to apply here - on one hand, I was deeply engrossed in the book and read it in one sweep which would indicate a high score - on the other hand, I am so vehemently opposed to the author's views that the majority of that score is negated. Objectively speaking, I believe that this book would evoke great discussions amongst reading groups. Having said that, I cringe while thinking of my own group who got into a heated debate over Marie Antoinette. Imagine what they would do over Eastern vs. Western practices of child-rearing. Holy cow, I'll have to hire security! In any case, I've started a fan club for Lulu - Go Team Lulu!
Beth C. (Sioux Falls, SD)
Clash of Cultures
Amy Chua, daughter of Chinese immigrants, had what she felt was a traditional Chinese-American upbringing. All of the emphasis was on success - in school, selected activities, and work. Family always came first and being second was failure. When her own daughters were born, she and her Jewish-American husband agreed that she could use the Chinese-American model with them. Thus, eldest daughter Sophia was taught to read and do math before ever reaching school age. She was also started on piano lessons at age three. the music lessons in particular required Amy to be the "tiger" mother - one who is often hated, as she insisted on strict practice times and routines. With her second daughter, Lulu, Amy used the same approach. However, while Sophia was mostly agreeable, Lulu rebelled at every chance. She was taking violin lessons and was excellent with the instrument, but family life was frequently in turmoil as she resisted the "tiger" pushing her towards success. This memoir tells Amy Chua's side of the family behavior - what she expected, what she hoped for and what the girls accomplished. It is an enjoyable foray into the behind the scenes activities of Chinese-American family life. The book would appeal to readers of ethnic literature as well as memoir readers. It would make an interesting book club choice.