Read advance reader review of The Family Chao by Lan Samantha Chang, page 3 of 4

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The Family Chao

A Novel

by Lan Samantha Chang

The Family Chao by Lan Samantha Chang X
The Family Chao by Lan Samantha Chang
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2022, 320 pages

    Aug 2022, 320 pages


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There are currently 27 member reviews
for The Family Chao
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  • John W. (Saint Louis, MO)
    Modern Version of The Brothers Karamazov
    One of my favorite books of all time is Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov and its lessons that people should not judge one another and should forgive another's sins. Like the Brothers Karamazov, the plot is fueled by the relationship of a father with his adult sons.

    The book blends family drama, mystery, and some dark humor. Similar to Brothers Karamazov it examines many crucial philosophical questions - ambition, family, loyalty, mental health, spirituality, cultural identity, racial stereotyping and immigrant assimilation.

    While I found the first half of the book, prior to the death of Leo Chao, a little slow, I was unable to put the book down after his death.
  • Sharalynne P. (Valparaiso, IN)
    The Family Chao
    Thank you for the ARC of this book. I did enjoy it but had mixed feelings about it. I thought it was well written and the characters were so believable. What I didn't like was the ending and the uncertainty of Dagou's future. I'm so glad the mystery of Alf was solved in a good way.
  • Viqui G. (State College, PA)
    The Family Chao
    I had mixed feelings about this novel. I totally enjoyed the realistic descriptions of an immigrant family struggling in an adopted culture. Also all of the main characters were fully fleshed. So the first half of the novel was intriguing and enjoyable. In the second half of the novel, after Leo is "gone", the story arc became darker. The three brothers seem to lose their purpose in life. Ming's breakdown, James' despondency and of course, Dagou's conviction. The family reaction to the tragedy is understandable, although Leo was not loved by anyone. However, I felt that the novel's conclusion was not very satisfactory. There were some loose ends in the story line that were never addressed, and for this reason I only gave the book a rating of 4 stars.
  • Donna C. (Cary, NC)
    Dysfunctional Asian family story
    I loved the premise of this book. I'm a fan of family sagas, and this fit that perfectly. The fact that it was an Asian family was also a plus since I like to read about diverse populations in my fiction. Loved that much of the story takes place in a Chinese restaurant, it was fun to read about the food and cooking. I thought the author did a great job in writing these characters, none of whom were particularly likable at one point or another. For the most part I found the writing propelled the story along, however there were a few places it seemed a bit stilted and did effect my overall enjoyment. I liked most of the ending, but there was one thread left hanging that bothered me. I waited through the whole book and never got a definitive answer.

    Good story with great characterization, but the ending left me wanting more answers.
  • Catharine L. (Petoskey, MI)
    The Family Chao
    What a family! Loving, cruel, passionate, racist, forgiving-they are unforgettable. The father, who is murdered,had no redeeming qualities, which made everyone a suspect. The book was a combination of a mystery, love story, and family drama. Would recommend.
  • Linda H. (Manitowoc, WI)
    It was compelling reading
    The Family Chao is a family saga, covering only a few weeks, but with enough flashbacks to help the reader get a sense of the background. The father came from China to make some money, and he knew a little about restaurants. As the children came along they joined the work force with their parents until they leave for college. As you might expect, there a lot of tensions between the father who worked very hard to succeed, and the children who want to leave Haven, Wisconsin as soon as possible. If you know people who ran a restaurant, some of the issues will be familiar. If you owned one, you might not want to revisit this one! While it wasn't a book that I loved, I kept reading. That says something about a compelling plot. Struggles between parents who worked hard and children who want to get away happen in any culture, but the strain between the father's culture and his children's are more predictable in immigrant families. I do recommend the book. Several of the characters have stayed with me.
  • Melanie B. (Desoto, TX)
    Simmering Family Drama Boils Over
    The novel begins with repressed anger, resentment, self-loathing and rage that continues at some level throughout the book and can be overwhelming at times. Leo Chao's desire for success and riches emotionally and physically damages his wife Winnie and each one of his sons—Dagou, Ming and James— and the reader senses even as their lives continue after the story's climax there will be another generation paying the price. The characters are richly developed and the emotional sensitivities affecting those walking the line between two cultures are sometimes too painful to imagine. This is a timely and thought- provoking family drama.

Beyond the Book:
  The Brothers Karamazov

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