Kate's Reviews > Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
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I'm going to venture to say that anyone who describes this as a parenting how-to hasn't finished it. It's one of those books that anybody can relate/react to -- because they've either raised children or been raised themselves. But this story is actually not about us; it's about the author and her family.

The book is a memoir, and a really good one. Chua tells the tale of how she raised her daughters, pushing them to be musical prodigies and demanding nothing less than the best in every area -- no matter what the cost in money, time, or mental health. She goes to jaw-dropping lengths to make sure her kids have every possible advantage and works them as hard and long as possible. She gets very personal and nasty with her kids, and is stricter than strict.

She spends some of her time lecturing us (sometimes winningly, I thought) about the evils of what she describes as lazy "Western parenting." She spends some of her time making sly fun of her own extremes -- like when the family gets a dog, and she's distressed that it's not smart enough. (This book is frequently very funny.) And her story is part confessional, as well -- as the girls get older, her philosophy starts to backfire, and she describes the suffering confusion of firmly believing in her methods and watching them fail.

It's been controversial because of all her talk about "Chinese parenting" vs. "Western parenting," and she does plenty of lecturing. But the book really presents two sides of Chua -- the side that believed in her own methods, and the side that had to adapt. It's funny, horrifying, heartbreaking, nuanced, inspirational, terrifying, and kind of tender at the end -- a great memoir. (And great on audiobook, with Chua reading.)
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