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Listen to the Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What's a Daughter To Do? A Memoir (Sort Of)

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  1,903 ratings  ·  264 reviews
As the 800,000+ U.S. fans of Elaine Lui’s site know, her mother, aka The Squawking Chicken, is a huge factor in Elaine’s life. She pulls no punches, especially with her only child. “Where’s my money?” she asks every time she sees Elaine. “You’ll never be Miss Hong Kong,” she informed her daughter when she was a girl. Listen to the Squawking Chicken lays bare the playbook o ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 22nd 2014 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published April 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.57  · 
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I received an ARC of The Squawking Chicken by Elaine Lui in return for an honest review. I gave this book 2 Stars because it was very well written. That's all I thought it had going for it.

Elaine Lui has a very unusual mother who has a very unusual background. The mother is the Squawking Chicken about whom Lui has managed to put together enough material to cover a whole book. The Squawking Chicken sees no need to filter anything she says. That others may have sensitive feelings is of no concern
Amanda Bolderston
Apr 13, 2014 rated it did not like it
Sooooo disappointed! I love Lainey and her snarky blog, I think she's smart. witty and can deliver a killer one-liner so I was really looking forward to this biographical account of her relationship with her mother. I think there were two problems for me. The first was that Lainey's colloquial style (like a deliciously bitchy email from a girlfriend) works well on a blog, but can't sustain a full book. After a while it looks shallow and trite. The second problem was I found her portrayal of her ...more
Jan 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now I understand my mother-in-law better. I understand why not to get attached to a dim sum place (you'll always move to a newer one), why my wife doesn't get birthday gifts (for being born? her mum did the work that day), and why soup must be drunk (put simply, you'll likely die immediately without it).

Not that my wife hasn't patiently explained all this to me. Some small part of me always said, "But it must be only her mother." No. Apparently Elaine Lui has one too.

Funny, but at times reflecti
Sep 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I sat down to read a couple of pages in the library and got sucked into finishing the whole thing. Ms. Lui can write, and write well. The whole thing made me a little sad though. So much pain in the lives of both of these women, and that is - mostly - glossed over.

It does not surprise me that Lui deliberately chose not to have children. Her own childhood was difficult and her relationship with her mother was fraught with resentment that she is not ever allowed to feel. Instead, she is supposed t
This book made me miss my mother. I wish I could phone her. I wish I could get her to read this book and tell me what she thinks of it. I just wish I could hear her voice once more—something that I haven’t heard for eighteen years.

Now let me be clear—my mother was nothing like Elaine Lui’s mother, the Squawking Chicken. She had a happy childhood, a good marriage, and I think the normal desire to see her children do well. The Sqawking Chicken had a brutal childhood (her parents contemplated letti
Jacki (Julia Flyte)
Apr 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Elaine Lui is a Canadian Entertainment Journalist who writes the gossip blog "Lainey Gossip". This memoir is about her relationship with her mother, aka the "Squawking Chicken" (a nickname that she's had since she was a teenager). Lainey explains in the book's introduction that she wrote the book to honour her mother and to acknowledge how every success that she's had in her life stems from her mother's devotion to her. While I believe she means this, what comes across instead is that her mother ...more
Jen Kirsch
Jul 04, 2014 rated it did not like it
This morning I read Lainey Gossip's much talked about "sorta" memoir, Listen to the Squaking Chicken. The book is all about her mom, her moms history, friendships, failed relationships and mostly, her parenting skills (or lack thereof.) Within reading the first chapter, I was anxious to finish this book, only so I could go on to read to my next one waiting - calling - for me on my bookshelf. I felt disappointed in myself that I decided to go for this read first, but I blame that on both my curre ...more
Mar 25, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in learning about (or relating to) the immigrant experience
How I Came To Read This Book: I got a digital ARC from the publisher.

The Plot: Elaine Lui is a first generation Chinese-Canadian. Her mother is the titular squawking chicken. Through 10 essays (each of which is typically stitched together from 3 or 4 shorter anecdotes) she explores her mother's insane (by Western standards) way of raising her daughter - and why Elaine may not be entirely grateful for a lifetime of shaming, but at the very least recognizes what she's learned or gained from her mo
Sue Louie
There seems to be an undertone of bitterness below the shallow layer of 'humour' in this 'sort of memoir'. Calling her mom a squawking chicken for example raises a red flag. Is the author not aware of the connotation of labelling a woman a 'chicken'? (squawking or otherwise)
It isn't exactly a term of endearment.
-What about the repeated mentioning of her mom's violation. Yes, the traumatic event has been woven into the fabric of both their lives... But what is her purpose of waving it about like
bec ɤ
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this memoir. It was heart warming, funny, blatantly truthful, and simply entertaining. As a child of parents who are also immigrants I could relate to Elaine a lot. Full review to come.
Chihoe Ho
Feb 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If this book was supposed to be incredibly funny, the humour was lost on me. Sure, "Listen to the Squawking Chicken" did elicit some smiles and chuckles, but I would hardly characterize it as "laughing till I rolled off the bed" as author Kevin Kwan describes it. Catherine Gildiner also says she "learned more about Chinese culture from this book" than her time in Hong Kong. It's misleading because while there are commonalities to the traditions and superstitions of the general Chinese culture, E ...more
Samantha Trillium ☂
Anyone who is not familiar with Elaine Lui, (aka Lainey gossip) do yourselves a favour, and get familiar. This woman is a firecracker! And although her main claim to fame is celebrity gossip, she is so much more than that... for further proof, tune in to the Social (a Canadian "The View") and just listen to one of her classic rants. When she has an opinion about something, she's going to tell you exactly what it is.

Her "memoir" of sorts is mostly about her relationship with her mother, otherwis
Jul 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: canada
I waited a long time to read this book because I hated the title. That turned out to be prophetic, because I really, really didn't like this book. I've been reading Lainey's column almost from the beginning, and I've read her occasional rant about her mother with amusement. That's fine and dandy, but 200 pages of her mother is 199 pages too much. This woman has no discernible redeeming qualities. No matter how tough a childhood is or what kind of cultural background a person comes from, there is ...more
Elvina Barclay
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think I want a Squawking Chicken mother. It wouldn't be easy of course but despite the cringing embarrassment and at times strange advise I would definitely be a much better person.
Elaine's mother's story is at times heartbreaking but ultimately so uplifting. I would love to be her friend, if only for 18 months or 2 years until I did something so low classy that she cut me loose without a word and left me scratching my head in wonder (is head scratching "low classy"). A great look at one amazi
Apr 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'd rate this 3.5 stars if I could, but since I can't, I generously added the other half star. ;) Fluff. Pure fluff that you can digest in a day or two but likely won't remember a lot of it in 3 months. But that's ok, not every book is meant to fill you up. I did appreciate the anecdotal style of the book, I actually quite enjoy reading little stories of people's lives. Especially lives lived so differently from my own. The writing style was easily digestible and told as if sitting and gossiping ...more
I did not care for this book. I'm familiar w/ Elaine Lui, aka Lainey Gossip; I've seen her a few times on TV and have read the occasional blog post. But I am not a regular follower of hers. However, what I've seen indicated that this would probably be a well-written and interesting book.

It was well-written. Or at least, nothing bothered me about the writing. She brought the characters in the book to life. And she seemed to have a good strong editor.

And it was interesting. Her mother, whom the bo
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
I'm a Laineygossip fan and did like her writing style but I maintain that bloggers turned authors really don't produce very good books. I would have been disappointed if I had purchased this (yay library!), but it is a quick read with some pretty wild and entertaining stories.

Lainey either has a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome or she is only telling us half the story, I just can't imagine how her daughterly devotion can result from her relationship as presented here. Beyond that, he work ethi
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of this book ( thanks Random House Canada) This book filled in some missing pieces for me. I've followed Lainey Gossip for years now and have been entertained by the small servings dished out in her blog. This book was the whole meal that I devoured over one weekend. I could have done it in one sitting but I wanted to make it last as I knew I would only be getting small bits again through her blog and on The Social. I have pre ordered the book through Cha ...more
Apr 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Hopefully this book was written mostly tongue in cheek as it chronicles mother/daughter co- dependency of the highest order. Mother (Squawking Chicken) knows all bolstered by a never ending supply of her interpretations of feng shui and Asian superstitions. The author and daughter seemingly believes that mom is never wrong and her husband has bought in to this whole life where almost every decision has to be made through mom's filter. Ms. Lui, seems to admire her mother who I see as manipulativ ...more
May 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Elaine Lui runs a gossip blog called Lainey Gossip and sometimes she gives her readers fascinating glimpses into her life with her mother, which is why I wanted to read this book, and why I'm glad I did. I don't know very much about Chinese folk religion or Feng Shui, and so I found seeing the world through the eyes of people who wholeheartedly believe in it to be very interesting. This is a light, gossipy book that can be read in a single afternoon, but it does do a really good job of explainin ...more
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed Lainey's light, conversational tone. As an avid reader of her blog, reading her book was another step in our growing, one-sided and imaginary bff relationship. The dynamics of the mother-daughter relationship are hard enough to contemplate on the best of days, with the sanest of mothers. On a regular day with a crazy mother, hell bent on having everyone live life on her terms, well, that's a whole other story that's told with 'class' and humour here. Personally, I think it would make a ...more
Anne Boardman
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I scored an advance copy of this book from the Penguin Books First to Read program. I really enjoyed the stories of the Squawking Chicken. Definitely some life lessons in there that I would imagine can only be appreciated when you've lived through the experiences and got some distance for perspective. I have to say though that if my mother acted like the Squawking Chicken or my daughter talked about me like the author did of her mother, I would kill them both in their sleep. Fun read nonetheless ...more
Jenn McRobbie
Mar 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
The writing was superb and kept me coming back DESPITE hating the subject matter. Otherwise I would've rated this book much lower.

I am half Chinese and half Caucasian. Books like this, in my opinion, just highlight stereotypes about the Chinese. I know, I know "stereotypes have basis in reality" but I found myself cringing through this book. I imagined how mortified my own mom would knowing that The Squawking Chicken's actions would be attributed to "cultural differences."

I feel for the author.
Mar 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Lui spends her day writing blog posts and speaking on TV, so she’s articulate, and it shows through her writing. It’s eloquent and I really liked the style of speaking briefly about some life lesson, or cultural Chinese reference, and then throwing in a story but always tying it together in the end. She kept me completely enthralled and entertained the entire time...
(find full review here:
Karry Vanherreweghe
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book as a First Reads, Goodreads winner.
This book has a little bit of everything, but mostly humor. The Squawking Chicken used every opportunity to teach her daughter a lesson and it wasn't necessarily a way my mother would have used, but probably a way she would've wanted to! I laughed, I was shocked and I even learned a few things... like, I really need a Feng Shui master!
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
I love the laineygossip blog, so I was looking forward to reading this book. It definitely is not as great as I was hoping it would be. Sure, there were a few funny parts, but overall, it was sort of lacklustre.
Aug 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: v2v-book-club
This book made me chuckle more than once. I envy and admire the relationship EL has with her mother. It's beautiful, complicated and each needs each other to survive. I hope my own daughter sees my faults in the same forgiving way as EL does for her mother. Lucky.
May 28, 2014 rated it liked it
I didn't love this book. It was interesting to learn about mother/daughter culture in China but I bristled at the 'mother knows best' theme that ran through the book.
Lacked a purpose. Some cute anecdotes but nothing brought it all together and it was poorly edited. Her blog is better...
Caitlin Anderson
Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Lainey's writing style is extremely engaging, and her stories about her mother fluctuate between funny, heartfelt, and vaguely horrifying. Quick, fun read.
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“Ma did not want me to grow up with envy. She didn't want me to grow up wanting what I couldn't have and, more importantly, taking what I didn't earn. Ma wanted me to learn that life wasn't easy, that the things you desire don't just appear one day on the sidewalk, waiting to be picked up, that things are never free.” 1 likes
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