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The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  919 ratings  ·  213 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
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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 ·  919 ratings  ·  213 reviews

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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
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
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
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star, 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
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
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 ;)

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
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
Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell
I love the title and the premise sounds awesome too-- I WANT IT

Dumpling power up?
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
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
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.
Sep 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, physical-arc
this book was amazing! it had a really raw moving portrayal of mental health, family themes, and all the delicious dumplings! full rtc closer to (USA) pub date
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.
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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

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