Monday, July 18, 2011

Review: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by 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.

Pages: 237
Publisher: Penguin Press
Release Date: January 11, 2011
Goodreads | Amazon 


First off, before I even start with this review: I know this isn't a young adult novel.  It's an adult non-fiction. However, me being who I am, I felt the need to read it and put my review up here for the world to see.

I wanted to read this book because of all the controversy it was stirring up, to be honest.  If a book can get articles in People magazine, Time magazine, and the Wall Street Journal all in the same week, this is something good that I need to get my hands on and read.

This isn't so much going to be a review.  It's basically just going to be some thoughts typed out for you to read - it seems wrong to "review" somebody's life.

I loved this read.  Yes, I admit it.  Did I agree with everything Amy did while parenting her daughters? No.  But that's just the thing - everybody parents differently.  There isn't a rule book to parenting; it's something that the parents need to decide how to do and what works effectively for their own family.

Chua takes parenting to an all new level, as you can see from the summary.  She writes out her struggles wonderfully.  It's a fast-paced novel that keeps you laughing, but at the same time, you wonder how she could do some of these things to her own child.

However, her parenting style seems to have worked for her kids.  They are teenagers now, and her oldest played piano in Carnegie Hall at the age of fourteen.  Fourteen!  Do you know how incredibly hard it is to get into Carnegie Hall?!  I also saw in an interview that when her oldest daughter was asked by a reporter if she had all straight-A's during high school, she replied this (and I quote): "No.  I had one A- sophomore year in Calculus."  First of all: Calculus sophomore year.  I don't know about you're school, but here in good ole Michigan, Calculus is something you take as a senior -- if you take it at all!  Second of all: A- doesn't get you straight A's?  Third: That's the worst grade she got all throughout high school?! That's crazyinsane.

Chua's second daughter has also been a major success.  She's an excellent student.  She excelled at the violin before she took up tennis, and is now a wonderful tennis player also.

Overall, I recommend this book.  I loved hearing Amy's challenges as she raised her kids.  It was a very unique look into the life of a Chinese immigrant family (Chua's parents immigrated to the US from China) and the expectations and parenting style in a Chinese household.

Grade: A+.

Source: borrowed from my library.

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