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The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling

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4.06  ·  Rating details ·  3,034 ratings  ·  578 reviews
Anna Chiu has her hands pretty full looking after her brother and sister and helping out at her dad’s restaurant, all while her mum stays in bed. Dad’s new delivery boy, Rory, is a welcome distraction and even though she knows that things aren’t right at home, she’s starting to feel like she could just be a normal teen.

But when Mum finally gets out of bed, things go from b
...more
Paperback, 392 pages
Published August 5th 2019 by Allen & Unwin
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Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,034 ratings  ·  578 reviews


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Jeann (Happy Indulgence)
This review originally appeared on Happy Indulgence Books. Check it out for more reviews!

Not only does it cover the mental illness and depression well, but it’s also balanced with equal parts warmth, of hope and of love and acceptance. I don’t know how Wai Chim does it, but The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling captures so much of my life growing up. From having strict, traditional Chinese-Australian parents, to the mental illness stigma and a sister having to take care of her siblings, there’
...more
CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨
Read my full review on my blog, The Quiet Pond!

I don't remember the last time a book made me feel so vulnerable and raw. This book made me confront a lot of personal feelings about a lot of things, some of which were uncomfortable, but I think that's why this book is so important and necessary.

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling is one of the most candid and honest portrayals of how mental illness intersects with Asian identity, culture, and values.

Not only was this an effortless 5⭐ read, b
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Zitong Ren
Ok so I feel sort of attacked, ok just kidding I don’t, ok maybe I do. I did find myself relating to Anna, who is the main character in the book a fair, bit, being a Chinese-Aussie myself, even though I’m from Melbourne and Anna is from Sydney. I felt that when she looked over at a certain group of people and at how they were all going to get super higher ATAR(Australia Tertiary Admission Rank, from those non Aussies out there, it’s the score that bases what uni’s we get into) and all had classi ...more
Claude's Bookzone
#3 in the Goodreads NZ Readathon

CW: (view spoiler)

Warning: This book will bring on an intense desire to eat dumplings and other delicious Chinese food.

What a gem of a book. I loved the dynamics between the different family members and reading about the customary deferential treatment of parents in Chinese culture. The way the tension
...more
rachel ☾
quick thoughts:

i adored this! the only thing holding me back from a higher rating was the fact that:

a) the romance was between a 16yo girl in high school and a 20yo man who worked for her father's business
b) how frustratingly obvious this was written by an american author, despite being set in australia with an aussie cast


Trigger warnings for (view spoiler)
...more
Xueting
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Such a heartwarming, eye-opening story about family, mental illness, the Chinese immigrant experience in Australia, Cantonese culture, and more. There’s also a sweet romance and lots of delicious Chinese food that made me hungry :P
Yna from Books and Boybands
“That’s the thing. Everyone thinks therapy is for when things get too bad, but really we all could use someone to talk to.”


📚 Series? No.
📚 Genre? YA Contemporary.
📚 Read for? StanAsianAuthors
📚 Cliffhanger? No.

⚠ Content Warnings:  Bullying. Mental Health. Suicide. Depression. Racism.
⚠ Book Tags :  Asian Representation > Chinese. Set in a restaurant.

For a book that I randomly picked to fill in my Stan Asian Authors challenge, what a surprise that I got an amazing one! The Surprising P
...more
Lisa (Remarkablylisa)
May 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: asian-books, may-2021
This was a dark dark dark book but so realistic and raw. It had such good Chinese representation too.
Emma
Nov 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Full review HERE

A delicate exploration of the life of a Chinese family living in Australia.
This book revolves around Anna, her two younger siblings and her parents who are both struggling in their own way. Her father seems to never be home because he constantly has to work, whereas Anna's mother is battling her inner demons. The focus that was put on mental health was very much appreciated, I foun
...more
Blue
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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WoW!
I loved this book! It is one of the few contemporary books that is realistic!! Not everything in life is perfect and this book exposed that.
The characters were beautiful and the culture of the book was delightful.

Highly recommend this book
...more
♠ TABI⁷ ♠
Jul 25, 2019 marked it as to-read
I for one am NOT surprised at the power of good dumplings because they're freaking magical okay ...more
R Smith
Feb 14, 2022 rated it really liked it
Not what I was expecting - but still so sweet
Nina
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling can do for today's adolescents - especially of Chinese or other eastern Asian descent, as it simultaneously tackles being a Chinese immigrant in Australia - what Saving Francesca did for me when I was young. While the teenage love story was too cheesy for me, I really enjoyed the multi-faceted portrayal of having a mentally ill parent; how it affects the other parent, how it affects siblings differently, how submission becomes a survival strategy, and so o ...more
Kate Olson
Prior to encountering this book I asked my teenage daughter what she thought the most depressing thing to read about was, and her instant answer was “kids whose parents have clinical depression” (my answer was opioid addiction FWIW). Despite my daughter’s assertion and it being the exact topic of this book (well, perhaps bipolar?) Chim infused such abundant hope throughout the story that I couldn’t help but be uplifted. The overarching message of mental illness in a family being “normal” and som ...more
Erica
There's a lot of good stuff in here amidst several themes that aren't prevalent in YA fiction.

Chinese Australian Anna is trying to be a good daughter and a good big sister while her mother suffers from an unnamed mental illness and her father hides from his paternal duties by running and living in his restaurant a few towns away in order to provide for his family (his rationale).
Anna just wants to be a normal teen but she's ostracized at her private school where she struggles in some of her cla
...more
Annie
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A late night decision to start this book and keep reading was probably one of the smartest decisions I made. This wonderful story really touched my heart. A book that explores cultural clashes in the western world, bullying, racism and mental illness - a concept that many still do not fully understand and still holds cultural stigmas today. Wai did a fantastic job in capturing this from different angles - a family member watching another family member suffer from it, a friend who is listening to ...more
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
With a cover endorsement from Alice Pung, and a recommendation from @babblingbooks, I decided to give this YA contemporary romance a shot. This is an Aussie release by Chinese-American writer Wai Chim (who now lives in Sydney) but international readers can look forward to this being published in the US later this year!

This is a really sound and emotionally intelligent narrative exploring issues around mental health and family pressures. The story follows Anna as she deals with mounting pressures
...more
Colin
TOTAL READING TIME: 3 hours, 46 minutes.

Even though I knew going in that this book is about what it's like to have a loved one with mental illness, I did not expect it to be so heavy--to the point that I couldn't read this book for more than 45 minutes at a time.

This book brought me to tears. It explored the intersections between class, culture, immigration, family dynamics in the context of Chinese culture, and mental illness; and how eldest daughters receive the brunt of responsibility within
...more
trufflebooks
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, 5-star
5/5 ⭐ absolutely loved it. Amazing read, binged it in a day and a half and didn't want to put it down. A must read, full review HERE.. ...more
Tien
I read this in a single sitting!! I started at around 21:30 last night and finished at 00:45 and my heart was just sooo Full 🥟🥟🥟🥟🥟

Mostly, I love it because it feels so true to my immigrant family. There were so many instances that I was just 'yes, that's so true!' & 'that is just how it is in my Chinese family too!'. The author herself would have gone through a very similar experiences noting her background, being Chinese American. Though we are proudly claiming her as an Aussie these days ;)

Whi
...more
Tamsien West (Babbling Books)
I absolutely adored The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling! A big-hearted YA contemporary that tackles family relationships, first love, and serious mental health issues in a really thoughtful & genuine manner.
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell
I love the title and the premise sounds awesome too-- I WANT IT

Dumpling power up?
kate
This book features so many important discussions when it comes to its exploration of mental illness in relation to Asian culture, the Chinese immigrant experience in Australia, academic pressure, living with a parent with mental illness, parental expectations, complex family relationships and more.

Whilst the writing style itself and some of the ways mental illness was represented led me to giving it a (solid and positive) three stars, I appreciate the importance and necessity of this book and h
...more
Paula M
Find me elsewhere:

blog || instagram || twitter

First of all, lets all just admire the very catchy title and cute cover of this book. I really had high expectations from this novel, I'm not going to lie. And although it DID deliver, I have some minor issues that kept me from REALLY loving it as a whole.

Our story focuses on Anna and her family who manages a Chinese restaurant at Sydney, Australia. Anna has A LOT on her plate, with an important essay that she needs to re-write, a father that she w
...more
Elena L.
Nov 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
[ I received an ARC from the publisher - Scholastic Press - in exchange for an honest review ]

"The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling" is an eye-opening story about mental illness, culture, love and family. Anna Chiu is a mature-beyond-her-age girl who cares for her mentally-ill mother and younger siblings while her father is busy running a restaurant. Other than the family struggles, Anna suffers microaggressions/racism and only desires to have a "normal" life.

I felt so familiar reading about
...more
Heidi
Mar 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
I got this gorgeous copy of THE SURPRISING POWER OF A GOOD DUMPLING in the #authorsforfireys auction back in January (how long ago this seems now!). Author Wai Chim had generously donated hand painted copies to raise money for victims of the terrible bushfires in NSW and Victoria. .

With a title like this, I was hoping for a feel good book that would take me on a journey. Who doesn't love a good dumpling? And I was right: the story is fresh and warm and life affirming, whilst still tackling impor
...more
Cindy ✩☽♔
It is crazy because my cousin and I were just talking last mouth about how we needed a book that touched on the stigma associated with mental health in Asian cultures. We even discussed how she should write one based on her personal experience with her mother. Lo and behold this appears across my Instagram feed. Honestly, I cannot wait to check it out and see if it's everything I've been waiting for.

Sidenote: I'm disappointed the U.S. Publisher decided to change the cover because I really like t
...more
chloe yeung ♡
i received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. all opinions below are my own.

representation: hong kong chinese australian main character, queer side characters, depression
trigger warnings: depression, delusions, suicide attempt, racism


the surprising power of a good dumpling was a touching and meaningful story which touched upon heavier topics like mental illness but at the same time gave me the warmest feelings ❤

"i’ll never cease to be amazed by the surprising power of a
...more
Lyn
Oct 25, 2021 rated it liked it
'Love infused in every page?' Sorry but this is the most ridiculous fake promo. This book is the definition of pain and frustration. It discusses mental health in immigrant households and has one of the most interesting, authentic, and heartfelt family dynamics I've read in awhile.

However this book also made me feel very uneasy several times. I really wish her parents' perspectives are explored more. Yes I know this is YA and the main character is a teenager, so the focus will be the teen's exp
...more
Madison
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book caught my eye (seriously, how could I ignore that gorgeous cover), but I rushed to read it after learning I had the opportunity to meet the author. The Surprising Power of A Good Dumpling celebrates the harsh complexity of family relationships, the love and hurt shared and the determination it takes to carry on. It celebrates community and friendship, the bond between sisters, and food. This book will have you hungry, so I highly recommend you have snacks on hand. It’s a bittersweet re ...more
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Wai Chim grew up in New York City and now calls Sydney, Australia home. She is the author of several children and young adult titles. You can find her online at waichim.com or on twitter @onewpc.

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