BookBrowse Reviews Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

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Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

by Amy Chua

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2011, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Dec 2011, 256 pages

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A controversial memoir weighing the merits of strict parenting

Amy Chua's controversial book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, has inspired fervent responses - both positive and negative - 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:

Some readers applauded Chua's strict parenting style:
Chua's parental practices, which might sound terribly harsh to a Westerner, represent something totally different in the Asian cultural context. The truth is, the world is a harsh place, and Chua, like my parents, is preparing her kids with "tough love." My mother often asked me, "Do you think it is easy to be hard on you? I would love to be the parent who just plays with you all day. If you succeed and do well in the world, who does it benefit? Me? No, it benefits you." I know that I work hard, but like Chua, my mother worked even harder and this can only be understood as a sign of her love for her children. In every page of the book, we can catch glimpses of her love for Sophia and Lulu (H. Lee). 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 (MaryEllen K).

While others were strongly opposed:
From the way the book started I was expecting self-deprecating humor; what I got instead was a story about parenting that is so harsh and restrictive that, to me, it bordered on child abuse (Susan S). 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). While she seems convinced that Chinese children are ultimately grateful for this kind of parenting, her description of the relationship with her younger daughter does not bear this out (Dorthy M). What is the end result of the unmerciful browbeating she subjects her daughters to? Perhaps they do "achieve" but at what price (Shelby)?

But the majority of readers felt Chua's book merited praise for its thought-provoking nature, regardless of their views on parenting:
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 (Susan S). A well written and fascinating book - but a bit like watching a train wreck (Maggie R). I thoroughly enjoyed Amy Chua's book. I was, at turns, both amazed and horrified by her 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). 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). It occurs to me that there is far more to the Chinese versus Western parenting dynamic than meets the eye. At the surface level, it appears to be about control versus leniency. However, I translated that 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 (MaryEllen K).

This review was originally published in February 2011, and has been updated for the December 2011 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



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