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The Wangs vs. the World: A Novel by Jade…
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The Wangs vs. the World: A Novel (2016)

by Jade Chang

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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
I started this book during a readathon because it seemed like a fun, easy read. Cross-country family road trip high jinks!

Here's what surprised me: I ended up having to set it to the side because I was reading it too fast. (And reading fast, for me, is part of the point of a readathon.) I kept hitting lines of unexpected loveliness and re-reading them, and finding myself wanting to sort of sit and enjoy them instead of charging ahead.

I don't want to overhype this book because I'm sure it benefited from my relatively low expectations going in, but I really love when a book surprises me by being more than what I asked it to be. This did exactly that. It was the fun, easy read I expected, but it was also a moving, thoughtful read that took me by surprise.


I received a copy of this ebook from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.



( )
  BraveNewBks | Aug 8, 2017 |
An unexpected delight. Both funny and touching. ( )
  dcmr | Jul 4, 2017 |
Chang gives us insight into her character's minds but we are also shown how the characters look at each other - these combine to weave an intricate web of complex characterizations. The family saga rings true on many levels - the inter-generational perspectives, each character's woes and the way relationships can evolve. The cultural insights are also a highlight. This is a book that makes us see into other world views, providing us a glimpse into what makes us human. It's nice to have it all packaged as a fun romp across country. The Wangs travel into our hearts. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jun 18, 2017 |
I did not find this book to be outrageously funny as promised in the "professional" reviews, but I enjoyed it very much. The characters were richly-described and knowable. We can all relate to the depression in 2008. The unique spin here is the Chinese patriarch's obsession with returning to Communist China to reclaim land belonging to his ancestors, that may or many not be available for him to reclaim. As the family packs up from their repossessed home in California and drives across country to New York to live with their older sister, we learn what it's like to live as a Chinese American. The brother, sister, stepmother, oldest sister in New York and Charles, the father, are richly described. We can relate to each of them in different ways as the son wishes to pursue an unusual dream as a stand up comedian, the youngest daughter a career in fashion, and the oldest daughter a career in (sometimes controversial) art. It is the father's obsession with reclaiming land in China that unites them all as distinctly Chinese while enjoying the abundance of materialism in the US. That very contradiction unites and empowers them. Chang wrote a beautifully engaging novel where the characters grow through their father's somewhat crazy dream. ( )
  ErinDenver | Jun 12, 2017 |
The overwhelming feeling I had while reading this book was relief. I know that sounds strange to say about a novel but its the best and only way to describe what I felt as I was reading.

This was the first time that I read Asian American characters who were three-dimensional and not defined by their Asian American-ness. The Asian American characters that I have read in the past are characters in novels where being Asian American defines what the book is about and defines who the character is - books like Native Speaker or The Joy Luck Club. Or they are playing minor roles. Or their Asian American-ness is downplayed or not mentioned at all. Native Speaker and The Joy Luck Club are fantastic novels that were really important for me to read, especially at the time that I read them but Jade Chang's characters were people whom I could actually relate to. Being Asian American was an aspect of their lives that was a part of who they were but it wasn't the ONLY thing about them. Each of the characters, especially each of the Wang children, had their own unique personalities, ambitions, problems and their own prisms with which to view the world and their current situation. Their Asian heritage wasn't completely ignored, nor was it the only thing that characterized them. That is why it was such a relief to read about their lives. They were allowed to be real humans with real flaws and not just boxed into a specific role based on their race and I guess the relief aspect comes in because as a reader, I'm often trying to place myself in the shoes of the characters I read about and its never a comfortable fit - they're always off, usually by a lot. This was the first time that the shoes fit better than they ever had before and what other feeling does one have when that happens but relief? Thank you, Jade Chang! ( )
  adin18 | Jun 8, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
The future has an ancient heart. --CARLO LEVI
To get rich is glorious. --DENG XIAO PING
Dedication
For the Chang's (all three of them)!
First words
Charles Wang was mad at America.
Quotations
Oh shit. He was going to have to work! Actually work. At some uninspired, uninspiring job. Maybe with an apron on. For money. Money that he would need to pay for things like rent and phone bills and air-conditioning - or maybe air-conditioning was free? It seemed like one of those things that should be a basic human right for people living in the Southwest.
In the end, all we had were the people to whom we were beholden.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0544734092, Hardcover)

A hilarious debut novel about a wealthy but fractured Chinese immigrant family that had it all, only to lose every last cent—and about the road trip they take across America that binds them back together

Charles Wang is mad at America. A brash, lovable immigrant businessman who built a cosmetics empire and made a fortune, he’s just been ruined by the financial crisis. Now all Charles wants is to get his kids safely stowed away so that he can go to China and attempt to reclaim his family’s ancestral lands—and his pride. 
  
Charles pulls Andrew, his aspiring comedian son, and Grace, his style-obsessed daughter, out of schools he can no longer afford. Together with their stepmother, Barbra, they embark on a cross-country road trip from their foreclosed Bel-Air home to the upstate New York hideout of the eldest daughter, disgraced art world it-girl Saina. But with his son waylaid by a temptress in New Orleans, his wife ready to defect for a set of 1,000-thread-count sheets, and an epic smash-up in North Carolina, Charles may have to choose between the old world and the new, between keeping his family intact and finally fulfilling his dream of starting anew in China. 
  
Outrageously funny and full of charm, The Wangs vs. the World is an entirely fresh look at what it means to belong in America—and how going from glorious riches to (still name-brand) rags brings one family together in a way money never could.  
 

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 18 Apr 2016 21:05:13 -0400)

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