I thought Scottish mothers had the corner on guilt trips, tough love and manipulation, but having read Elaine Lui’s hilarious (sort of) memoir I realize that Chinese mothers obviously went to the same school. The common bond between these mothers is that they want the best for their children, and they want their children to be the best that they can be.
Elaine Lui’s mother, who’s Chinese name translates to Squawking Chicken, is feisty, highly opinionated, and a fighter. She was raised in Hong Kong by parents that ran a Mah Jong den, and yet, overcame great difficulty and hardship in her own life. The book is an account of how she prepares her daughter to succeed in life by teaching her life lessons along the way. In Elaine Lui’s mother's point of view every moment is a teaching moment, and will continue to be as long as she is alive. I learned a great deal about Chinese culture, and familial obligation in this novel, some of which western off-spring would do well to emulate.
The memoir is a monument to mother–daughter relationships, the ups and downs of that relationship and the many rewards are both equally represented; however, what shines through the most is the love that exists between these two very different women. A great story to share with mothers and daughters everywhere, especially as Mother’s Day approaches.
-- Catherine McGratton