Summary and book reviews of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

By Amy Chua

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Jan 2011,
    256 pages.
    Paperback: Dec 2011,
    256 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

"This is a story about a mother, two daughters, and two dogs. This was supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than Western ones. But instead, it's about a bitter clash of cultures, a fleeting taste of glory, and how I was humbled by a thirteen-year-old." - Amy Chua

An awe-inspiring, often hilarious, and unerringly honest story of one mother's exercise in extreme parenting, revealing the rewards - and the costs - of raising her children the Chinese way.

All decent parents want to do what's best for their children. What Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother reveals is that the Chinese just have a totally different idea of how to do that. Western parents try to respect their children's individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions and providing a nurturing environment. The Chinese believe that the best way to protect your children is by preparing them for the future and arming them with skills, strong work habits, and inner confidence. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother chronicles Chua's iron-willed decision to raise her daughters, Sophia and Lulu, her way - the Chinese way - and the remarkable results her choice inspires.

Here are some things Amy Chua would never allow her daughters to do:

  • have a playdate
  • be in a school play
  • complain about not being in a school play
  • not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama
  • play any instrument other than the piano or violin
  • not play the piano or violin

The truth is Lulu and Sophia would never have had time for a playdate. They were too busy practicing their instruments (two to three hours a day and double sessions on the weekend) and perfecting their Mandarin.

Of course no one is perfect, including Chua herself. Witness this scene:

"According to Sophia, here are three things I actually said to her at the piano as I supervised her practicing:

  1. Oh my God, you're just getting worse and worse.
  2. I'm going to count to three, then I want musicality.
  3. If the next time's not PERFECT, I'm going to take all your stuffed animals and burn them!"

But Chua demands as much of herself as she does of her daughters. And in her sacrifices-the exacting attention spent studying her daughters' performances, the office hours lost shuttling the girls to lessons-the depth of her love for her children becomes clear. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is an eye-opening exploration of the differences in Eastern and Western parenting - and the lessons parents and children everywhere teach one another.

Part One

The Tiger, the living symbol of strength and power, generally inspires fear and respect.

The Chinese Mother

A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it's like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I've done it. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:

  • attend a sleepover

  • have a playdate

  • be in a school play

  • complain about not being in a school play

  • watch TV or play computer games

  • choose their own extracurricular activities

  • get any grade less than an A

  • not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama

  • play any instrument other than the piano or violin

  • not play the piano or violin.

I'm using the term "Chinese mother" loosely. I recently met a super-successful white guy from South Dakota (you've seen him on television), and after...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. How do you feel about the approaches Amy used in raising her children? Are there any of them you think you could adopt and use yourself? Do you think you could have the discipline and self-sacrifice to carry them out to the same extent? And would you want to?

  2. For mothers of daughters: How well, or can you, relate to the following passage: (page 112): "The thing about Lulu and me is that we're at once incompatible and really close. We can have a great time but also hurt each other deeply. We always know what the other is thinking - which form of psychological torture is being deployed - and we both can't help ourselves. We both tend to explode and then feel fine. Jed has never understood how ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse

Amy Chua's controversial book has inspired fervent responses from BookBrowse readers. Withal, the majority of reviewers agree it is worth a read - 16 out of 23 people rate it 4 or 5 stars:

I was, at turns, both amazed and horrified by the descriptions of her mothering techniques. Her style of writing was humorous and engaging, and I think this would make a terrific book club choice. I would be fascinated to hear her husband's perspective (Lynette M). 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 (Gwendolyn D). Chua's ability to admit her flaws turns this book into a wonderful meditation on what it means to do one's best (Eileen P).   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

Full Review Members Only (1147 words).

Media Reviews
The Washington Post - Elizabeth Chang

Readers will alternately gasp at and empathize with Chua's struggles and aspirations, all the while enjoying her writing, which, like her kid-rearing philosophy, is brisk, lively and no-holds-barred. This memoir raises intriguing, sometimes uncomfortable questions about love, pride, ambition, achievement and self-worth that will resonate among success-obsessed parents…

The New York Times - Janet Maslin

…[A] diabolically well-packaged, highly readable screed…

Publishers Weekly

Chua's efforts 'not to raise a soft, entitled child' will strike American readers as a little scary... but the results, she claims somewhat glibly in this frank, unapologetic report card, "were hard to quarrel with."

Booklist

Chua's stated intent is to present the differences between Western and Chinese parenting styles... ironically, this may be read as a cautionary tale that asks just what price should be paid for achievement.

Author Blurb Tom Brokaw
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is the book we've all been waiting for – a candid, provocative, poignant and vicarious journey through the Chinese-American family culture. It will leave you breathless with its bluntness and emotion. Amy Chua is a Tiger Mother, a greatly gifted law professor and, ultimately, a honest, loving woman with a lot to say.

Reader Reviews
..

Great write up but..
Though I have to say she have really written the book well in terms of plotting it, her grammar and placement, throughout the book, I came to dislike the author herself. She kept mentioning how both Western and Chinese teaching are different and it ...   Read More

mimi

Boring
I found the book rather boring, slow and so repetitive. I did not find any part of it funny. The way she chose to raise her children is not totally Asian, other cultures have similar parenting styles. I love reading and love to learn, there was ...   Read More

Louise Jolly

Chinese Parenting or Western Parenting?
Chinese parenting or Western parenting – which one is better? I never really gave much thought in the past about any specific differences between the two styles. I did, however realize that a lot of Asian children seem to be more ‘gifted’ ...   Read More

H. Lee

A Scintillating Read: Meaningful, Humorous and Honest
This book really spoke to me, and I know that it will touch countless others. Like Chua’s daughters, I fall under the category of “model minority.” I grew up playing hours of piano, finessing my Korean, and striving for no less than A’s in school. ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

The Tiger Mother Media-Storm

In addition to her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua's Wall Street Journal article entitled, "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior" (which is excerpted from Tiger Mother but does not fully represent the message of the book) has created quite a stir in the media, and has inspired hundreds of opinionated articles and blog postings around the world. (Of note: Chua denies titling the article herself.) In it, among other things, she explains the benefits of what she considers "Chinese mothering" and highlights three major differences between the Chinese and Western parental mind-sets:

First, I've noticed that Western parents are extremely anxious about their children's self-esteem. They worry about how their children will feel if ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, try these:

  • Girls Will Be Girls jacket

    Girls Will Be Girls

    by Teresa Barker, Dr. JoAnn Deak

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Looks past the "scare" stories to those that enlighten parents and enable them to empower girls. Offers a comprehensive road map to the many emotional and physical challenges girls ages six to sixteen face in today's challenging world.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Hundred-Year House
    The Hundred-Year House
    by Rebecca Makkai
    Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"


    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...
  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.