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

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  459 ratings  ·  115 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
Paperback, 392 pages
Published August 5th 2019 by Allen & Unwin (first published August 2019)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

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

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  459 ratings  ·  115 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
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) ✨
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, but this is a new all-time favourite book.

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
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
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.
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
Cindy ✩☽ Savage Queen ♔
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
Cheska 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
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
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!
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.
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 ...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
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: yarc2020, 2020-favs
The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling is, for the most part, a story of love. It shows us the unspoken language of love within a family, the love one has for something they are fiercely passionate about, the giddiness of teenage romance and the difficulties of love when it is tangled up with something you don't quite understand. The difference it will make simply by offering someone a hand and letting love in.

There are so many things in this book that I love, too. Like the fact that it is
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
Lauren Renee(the.peachy.reader)
This book is so important and powerful and I'm beyond full of emotions after reading it.

The surprising power of a good dumpling discusses mental health in such a raw and real way, as well as, the power of love and acceptance. I'm at a loss trying to find the words to convey how beautiful and important this story is.

If you're looking for a thought provoking, brilliant read please pick this book up. It's a story that needs to be shared and cherished.
Libby Armstrong
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Spoiler alert - you’ll be obsessing over finding the perfect dumplings while reading Wai Chim’s new treasure of a story because it’s absolutely true. There is nothing more powerful than a good dumpling. It’s my go to pick me up every time. This novel packs a lot into its pages - the mental breakdown of a parent, the tightrope dance between family expectations and desires of teens straddling cultures, first love, and then there is a lot of dumplings. Sensitively written and relatable.
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Such a good story! Friendship, family and food - all things that help get through the bad times.
Giselle A Nguyen
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What an utterly beautiful book. Growing up Asian Australian, I didn't have touch points of representation for either identity or mental illness – this has both in spades. Chim's writing is straightforward and honest, and she captures so well the complexity of dual identity, and the conflicting responsibilities towards yourself and your family as an Asian teenage girl. There were some parts of this book that were very difficult to read, such was the rawness of the emotion and the no-bullshit ...more
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
Julie (Bookish.Intoxication)
This book has been everywhere lately and I just had to jump on the band wagon!

Firstly I love how unique the story itself is, of how Chinese people have such a unique and in depth culture that we aren't privvy to. I also love how Anna sees herself as a bad Asian, because she isn't crazy smart.

This book is easy to read and flows easily between one scene and the next. The plot itself is unique and I love how romance isn't the star of the show. It is rare to find a YA title, where the romance isn't
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is normal.
It’s heartbreaking. And it’s true.

Being the eldest daughter in a family comes with great responsibility.

And with that responsibility comes basically taking care of the family even when we ourselves are stretched to the brink. Mentally, physically. Whatever it is. Everyone else comes first because hey, that’s what being the first born girl is all about. The glue that keeps everyone together.

I’ll say this now but this book was lovely, heartbreaking, and poignant in so many ways. It
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
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I had zero kind of expectations going into this book. After a few pages, I noticed it was an Aussie YA book, which made my heart so happy. I don't know why. Maybe it's the doubts I'm having, being an immigrant in Australia. Maybe it was because I could pick up on so many Australian references, and that made me feel less of a foreigner here. I don't know I needed this book but it found me at the right time, I believe.

I love books that handle mental health issues, and this one did it so
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Growing up with a mother suffering mental health illness isn’t something that you learn about in school. Anna’s Mum spends days, weeks in bed and it’s left to her to look after her two younger siblings. With her father confining himself to their restaurant business, it’s left to three children to deal with something so confusing and upsetting. Young children who don’t have the language to describe what’s happening. My heart hurt the entire time I read this book.

You’re not alone. Forget the
Anna Davidson
An absolutely divine YA story about family, mental health, loyalty, migrant challenges and first love. Loved every page of this sweet, sweet novel.
« previous 1 3 4 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
  • Monuments
  • As Happy as Here
  • What I Like About Me
  • Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories
  • Sick Bay
  • Invisible Boys
  • Making Friends with Alice Dyson
  • Detention
  • I Am Change
  • All That Impossible Space
  • The Little Wave
  • There Was Still Love
  • The Man in the Water
  • Impossible Music
  • Wearing Paper Dresses
  • Shauna's Great Expectations
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.