Pub. date: October 4th, 2016
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Thanks so much to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Netgalley for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Charlie Wang moved to America to become filthy rich. He succeeded with a cosmetics empire until the day he went bankrupt. They’ve come for his money, his assets. His next course of action is to pack whatever belongings he has left, load up the car, take his wife and their faithful nanny, pull his son out of college and his youngest daughter out of boarding school, and road trip it to New York from California to his oldest daughter’s house. Welcome to The Wangs Vs. The World.
This is most certainly a comedic story delivered by Jade Chang with a well-mapped plot. There were several moments where I laughed out loud at some of the Charlie’s terrible decision-making. There were also moments where I just wanted to give all the Wangs a giant hug and tell them it was going to be okay. I loved that the kids were very close and supportive of each other. Sibling solidarity is the real deal, even if you’re not overtly affectionate with one another.
I especially liked the character development of Saina (the oldest daughter) and connected with her the most. All of the kids, basically. The feelings they experience, that dissonance between their upbringing and their American environment is so relatable. Saina, as the eldest kid, struggles with this the most. It is a crushing experience to realize you haven’t actually turned out exactly as your parents wanted you to, especially when you are aware of how much your parents have sacrificed to make sure you wouldn’t ever have to struggle or suffer.
This book isn’t perfect by any means. Yes, it is basically rich people problems. However, the layer of immigrant family story is definitely a crucial layer, and adds depth to the plot. Another thing I did appreciate was that none of the Chinese was translated or italicised in my egalley, and I hope it stays that way in the finished copy. The ending felt just a little crude and unfinished, but if that was the author’s intention, then that’s fine. Overall and enjoyable humorous book with some lovely touching moments. As a debut novel, it works very well, and I’m so excited to read more of her writing in the future. I’d recommend at least getting it through your library even if you’re unsure of owning a copy of the book.