Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling” as Want to Read:
The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  850 ratings  ·  195 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
Paperback, 392 pages
Published August 5th 2019 by Allen & Unwin
More Details... Edit Details

Win a Copy of This Book

  • The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim
    The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling

    Release date: Nov 10, 2020
    Enter to win one of 5 copies of THE SURPRISING POWER OF A GOOD DUMPLING by Wai Chim.

    Anna Chiu has her hands full. When she's not looking after her br

    Format: Print book

    Giveaway ends in: a

    Availability: 5 copies available, 1211 people requesting

    Giveaway dates: Sep 15 - Sep 28, 2020

    Countries available: U.S.

  • Friend Reviews

    To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

    Community Reviews

    Showing 1-30
    Average rating 4.21  · 
    Rating details
     ·  850 ratings  ·  195 reviews

    More filters
    Sort order
    Start your review of The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling
    C.G. Drews
    Oh I am here to tell you I just read the most WONDERFUL story. My heart is just so full of emotions right you know a book is special when you (a) can't put it down, and (b) cannot see a single flaw in it, and (c) just want to hug it to your chest when you do finish. This one is oh so special. It's both sweet and heart-wrenching, and it tackles with the darkness of mental illness with such nuance and respect. I just BAWL, softly. And with love.

    // as always I have a deep respect for #ow
    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’
    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
    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
    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)
    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
    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
    Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Want to see more...


    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
    Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: favourites, 2019
    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
    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
    Shelves: auslit
    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
    Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Reasons to pick up The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling (out August 5th):
    - I literally finished this book in under 24 hours the first time I read it because of how immersive and engaging it was. If you’re looking for your next contemporary read this is a great pick
    - This book is about food and family (the bonds between parents and kids, and sibling relationships) which I loved for the realism as well as its really heartwarming moments
    - The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling explores the pro
    Nina (Every Word A Doorway)
    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
    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. ...more
    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
    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 ;)

    Cindy ✩☽♔
    Jan 06, 2020 marked it as to-read
    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
    Tabi⁷ (ᕗツ)ᕗ
    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
    Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: 2020-reads
    This was such a beautiful story and it really has made me cry a few times. The plot was so good, and I think it was really interesting to read about mental illness within Chinese families. Furthermore, the descriptions about racism and microaggression were, sadly enough, so accurate. I found the characters to be really likable, especially little Michael. Oh and the food descriptions, those really made me hungry.
    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
    CC the Great is Not Okay
    Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Recommends it for: fans of Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman and The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan
    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
    Fatima (drinkbooks)
    Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: books-i-own
    Mental health rep = done brilliantly and respectfully.

    Characters = adorable and heartbreaking.

    Plot = devastating and intense, and so very real.

    Romance = so cute, little cheesy, but wholesome.

    Hunger rating = all time high. I’m telling you, I’ve never wanted dumplings more!!

    Side note that doesn’t really matter in the scheme of the whole book = Miss Kennedy was kinda the worst, and she needed to just chill out seriously.

    Overall, I really enjoyed this. Especially the #ownvoices rep. I’ve always kno
    Mel Campbell
    This reminded me of an old-fashioned kind of Australian YA: miserablist realism in which a teen protagonist has to shoulder the logistical and emotional burden of her family’s crisis. At times it was very stressful to read and I was so angry at the smug school guidance counsellor who has no fucking idea what pressure Anna is under and what a hero she actually is.

    But it also sympathetically conveys the cultural values that prevent Anna from seeking outside help and her dad from acknowledging his
    Lara (luellabella✂️)
    Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
    4 nourishing stars. If you like Melina Marchetta’s books, you’ll love this. I thought it was like the Chinese version of Saving Francesca. A good YA fiction about growing up in a migrant family in Australia - teenage angst, sibling troubles, cultural issues, mental illness (dealt with beautifully, not just skimmed over) and the sweetest of teenage romances between Anna and delivery boy, Rory.
    Tamsyn TG
    Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    This book is so beautiful in its strong themes of family relationships and dealing with mental health. Reading it was a truly satisfying emotional journey that culminated in dumpling cravings 😂
    I love dumplings and this book!
    Esther King
    Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Please note this is a 4.5.

    This is a wonderful book, and at the same time a very serious, heavy one. It follows the story of the Chiu family and their struggles through the mother of the family’s mental illness, taking a stark look at how children deal with their parents’ difficulties. It is realistic and stinging, and it manages to wrap in beautiful food, pressing social issues, and a love story all at once! It was an absolutely marvellous read, especially for a YA novel.

    I loved the fact as wel
    Karen (^ v ^)
    This is such a gem of a book. I think it matches and if not tops Starfish as being the most relatable book I've ever read simply because of the NSW setting, immigrant Hong Kong parents and all the nuances that come with that. This book is filled with so much heart and genuinity, you can tell the author poured her soul into the story.

    Things I loved:
    The Cantonese culture rep
    A lot of the times in YA books when there's Chinese diversity it comes in the form of Mandarin or Taiwanese-which is gr
    Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
    Dimity Powell
    Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: kids-lit
    Chim's latest YA is a tempting hot pot of teenage coming-of-age angst, family values, cultural cohesion, mental health oh and yes, dumplings! This is a hearty, satisfying read about Anna, the eldest child in a Chinese immigrant family who rely on the family restaurant to survive. That premise alone could have been redolent with cultural stereotypical cliches however Chim has blended Anna's story with the careful addition of a host of interesting and authentic ingredients; characters like, Rory, ...more
    Trigger warnings: mental health, animal cruelty, parental violence towards children, mentions of suicide, (view spoiler)

    It took me a while to get into this, but once I was in, I flew through it. And this definitely wasn't what I was expecting. The front cover was all cutesy contemporary story. The book itself was somewhat reminiscent of Saving Francesca, where the protagonist's mother has stopped getting out of bed and
    « previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
    There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

    Readers also enjoyed

    • It Sounded Better in My Head
    • This is How We Change the Ending
    • Ghost Bird
    • The Year the Maps Changed
    • How to Grow a Family Tree
    • Deep Water
    • As Happy as Here
    • Sick Bay
    • Please Don't Hug Me
    • Promise Me Happy
    • Invisible Boys
    • The Erasure Initiative
    • Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal
    • Monuments
    • I Am Change
    • Detention
    • Everywhere, Everything, Everyone
    • The Little Wave
    See similar books…
    Wai Chim grew up in New York City and now calls Sydney, Australia home. She is the author of the 'Chook Chook' series published by UQP and most recently 'Freedom Swimmer' with Allen & Unwin. You can find her online at or on twitter @onewpc. ...more

    News & Interviews

    Last year, Buzzfeed culture writer Anne Helen Petersen struck a chord with her viral article “How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation.”...
    68 likes · 10 comments
    “No matter what you hear, no matter what bad things they say. Remember that we love you and we are here to fight for you. We will fight the bad things, we will fight the shadows together. We are your family.” 3 likes
    “That’s all he thinks is wrong with Ma, that if she was busy enough, she wouldn’t have time to be sad and afraid.” 2 likes
    More quotes…