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Failing Up: A Professor's Odyssey of Flunking, Determination, and Hope

4.76  ·  Rating details ·  34 ratings  ·  29 reviews

"An absorbing, eye-opening narrative about the value of grit and education, sure to inspire a wide audience."

In this stunning debut memoir, Hong (Special Education/Brigham Young Univ.-Hawaii) recounts her exceptional transformation from floundering student to flourishing professor.

Born in Singapore to an uneducated mother and an alcoholic, abusive father,
ebook, 288 pages
Published April 12th 2018 by Learning Specialists
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Showing 1-30
4.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  34 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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Ashleigh Liu Pu
Doctor Hong's childhood was like most of the typical Chinese family. Different stress, disappointments, drama. Doctor Hong's perspective of life didn't change until the age of 10 when her aunty brought her to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Doctor Hong never sees people like LDS members. They gave her hope of the life she lives now. She never observes her own value until she encountered with LDS members. "Falling up" this book is not only a story of a professor, but a invitation ...more
Makana Arce
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book made me really sad when I started reading it. It completely erased all of my stereotypes of what I thought was the real Asian/Chinese culture...Atleast it provided explanations as to why some Chinese act the way and do the things the do. One of my most favorite parts of the book was when Barbara spoke back to her teacher. I couldnʻt imagine the mental stress and pressure she probably felt while living through enormous amounts of pressure and expectations from both family and school, bu ...more
Kristal Hong
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My interpretation of this book is that it was aimed towards students, but anyone who wants something more than what life gives them can benefit from this read. Barbra is a professor as well as much more. She has accomplished so much already in life and she continues to strive for more. This book tells about how a student, a daughter, and an underdog overcomes everyone's belief that she is unwanted and has no potential. She faced abuse in every direction, where most find comfort she faced negativ ...more
Lung Michelle
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A year ago as I was sitting in Dr. Hong's class, she shared this quote with us, "Don't compare your life to others. There is no comparison between the star, the moon, and the stars. They shine when it's their time." I found that quote inspiring but it did not astonish me much until I finished reading "Failing Up." This quote is on the last few pages of the book, and it is a perfect illustration of her life. Dr. Hong does shine. She truly shines at her own time.

My first impression about Dr. Hong
Charity Jung
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Different is not less.'

Just like an undergraduate student who called her out, we may prejudge the life story of someone like Dr. Hong by her outward appearance alone. Why do we keep judging others differently instead of just seeing others the way they are? While reading her book, the simple quote she signed on the book kept popping in my mind. 'Different is not less.' As soon as I read about her childhood story back in Singapore, I also reflected on some of the relatable experience in my life.
Sze F.
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book is so captivating. I finished it in two days, but it has left me pondering for a few weeks now. It always happens to me after I read an inspiring book.
Dr. Hong's story took me on an emotional rollercoaster. I could relate to some of the experiences and emotions from the book. Dr. Hong's perspectives have not only helped me embrace some of the traumas I had as a child, but also helped me turn to forgiveness and resolution. That was a bonus for me. Thanks to some "accidental angels" who h
Manny Swart
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An Inspiring Journey
This book illustrates the harsh and difficult childhood and adolescent life that Barbara Hong went through. Despite her living circumstances, below average performance in school and poor relationships with family members, she still achieved and continues to achieve very much, hence the term "failing up". When she was a child, her mom had little expectations of her achieving anything. One of her mom's best wishes for her and all of her siblings was to be a receptionist in an o
Brisa Neuendorf
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is amazing! I could not put it down. Barbara Hong's story is one of the most inspirational ones I have ever read. Her resilience and fight that she has within her to overcome such a tough upbringing is incredible. I have had the pleasure of taking a SPED class from Dr. Hong this semester, and without reading her book I would have never known how much she has overcome to get to where she is today. After reading about her uneducated mother and her alcoholic,abusive father, I felt extreme ...more
Feagiai Liu
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
 When I started reading it was hard to put it down because it was sad but also inspiring. It must've been hard to write this book, it's like reliving the memory over again but what I love about this book is the motivation that Barbara had. She experienced poverty, abuse, humiliation and her parents were not emotionally available to her. Despite these experiences and challenges she became a wonderful, influential professor and a successful woman.She used those tough experiences to learn from them ...more
Kris Dansie
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dr. Hong's story is inspiring. Her dedication, determination and perseverance through all of her trials, as explained in this book, have led her to a successful career in a field of study that she has an extreme passion for. This book gave me a new perspective on just how much someone is able to go through and grow from if they have the right mind set. As I read about her growth and changing perspective I was able to see everything from her view point with such detail that it was almost as if I ...more
Erica Greer
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I honestly am not a big reader but when I started this book I could not put it down! Barbara Hong is so eloquently able to word and describe these shaping events that have happened over the course of her life that has now immensely broadened my respect for her. From her harmful events in birth and infancy to her struggle with family life and her struggle in education, I so proudly commend her for being where she is today. Her desire to work hard for what you want truly is inspirational. Her dedi ...more
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been reading "Failing Up" over the course of the semester and it has been a delight. I would recommend this book to anyone who feels like they can’t beat the odds because that is what Dr. Barbara Hong describes feeling in her book. She faced so many hardships and challenges and some of her experiences made me sad, but I find her story so inspirational. It was extra meaningful to read her book while taking her special education class this semester because it gave me an understanding of her ...more
Yvette Liufau
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book full of personal experiences that Dr. Hong has had in pursuing her career as a teacher has helped motivate me to accomplish any goal that I set my mind to. I loved that it was very raw and honest in her childhood memories that included poverty, abuse, and yet in her story she was never failed to acknowledge the tough lessons she had learned from this. While being in her class and reading her book, it made me think about the challenges that she experienced growing up and how it' ...more
Cera Yellowhair
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dr. Hong is the definition of determination and dedication. After completing Dr. Hong’s book, I felt inspired and motivated to make a change. Throughout her book I felt determine to finish what I started for myself, but first I was determine to finish her book and believe me, I don’t like to read much. But as I was reading, I noticed I was constantly re-evaluating myself. Re-evaluating my educational goals, my family goals, my fitness goals, and I begin to think of how I can make “changes in peo ...more
I began reading this book for an assignment for Dr. Hong; I finished this book because it is a captivating story about overcoming struggles and making something of yourself. Dr. Hong's story is relatable, and one can find advice and inspiration from the pages of the book. One thing that I loved about the book is the raw and honest story told by Dr. Hong. You feel her disappointment, her pain, her desire for success and her happiness when she discovers herself. It makes you reflect back on your o ...more
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an inspirational story! I had the pleasure of attending Dr. Hong's SPED class and she is Amazing! This book helped me understand that things are not always as they seemed. Knowing Dr. Hong, I would never imagine her experience as the youngest child to go through so many trials as a family and to do whatever it may take to help them survive. I also learned the importance of family and being surrounded by good company. Dr. Hong's experience has taught me that there is always a positive side o ...more
Ola Vnic
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was introduced to this Book when it first came out during the spring this year. I never read the Book until the last week of September. Every page of this book makes me curious what will happen next in the story. This is how someone that does not like to read ends up reading the whole book in 3 days. The story of Barbara Hong taught a great lesson in life that anything is possible no matter what life throws at you. As a student, it taught me how to learn. It taught me how to help others learn. ...more
Bri Kerby
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Failing Up tells the story of a small Asian girl who has never been given the opportunity to prove anything of herself. She defies all odds despite being labeled "retarded" and a "cabbage head" and goes on to receive awards, degrees, and accolades, and ultimately changes lives. An inspiring woman and distinguished professor at Brigham Young University-Hawaii, Dr. Hong tells her story honestly and matter-of-factly, not covering or making excuses for those who mistreated her and abused her. The in ...more
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an amazing read! I cried, felt inspired and changed while reading this book. Everything she has endured is an example of why it is important to show empathy and not pass judgement on others. You never know what someone is going through.

This memoir also shows what amazing accomplishments can be made when even one person believes in you. I even was reminded what sparked my interest in education; those who need a voice or even a hug. It was a wonderful reminder to advocate for others. Lastly,
Jonna Lorente
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A MUST READ BOOK! Don't miss it! The book made me think about how our desires can change our paths. We are not born to fail. We are so we can reach our divine potentials. Dr. Hong showed in the book how perseverance and a positive attitude could be a key to our success. If you feel that you are being taken for granted, no hope, depressed, and feel like that the world is against you, then you must read this book to see what goodness in life awaits you. You are not destined to fail! You might fall ...more
Cindy Usevitch
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was an incredible inspirational story about a hopeless child that was able to turn her life around and eventually become a beacon of hope and inspiration for others. The story teaches that all lives and people are valuable and have significant worth. It was amazing to see the origins of this successful professor and to realize how many trials and hardships she had to surpass before reaching that point. I also really liked how this book illustrated the power that a kind, caring teacher ...more
Tamara Donaldson
Failing UP Some people hide their scars well and Barbara is one of them. To look at you I would never have thought that was your life. I honestly struggled to put the book down. I was so fascinated to know what was going to happen next. I realize now why you hate cats so much. When you made a comment in class about not enough of them are run over I was thinking that’s a little mean. To be honest I’m not a fan of them either, but I wouldn’t wish for them to die. But after reading your story I und ...more
Amy Copley
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I felt that reading this book was an eye opening experience to how a student's education is affected by poverty and the emotional struggle that comes with it. This book is a real first hand account that showed me how children struggle in harsh environments where they system leaves them behind. Barbara's childhood insight really struck me and showed me how children need to be taught in environments where they can see why they are doing what they are doing, and as teachers and parents we need to s ...more
Rachel Jenson
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great book to help every person, no matter what circumstance they are in to feel empowered to be able to achieve anything they want in life. This book, as it talks about the challenges throughout Dr. Hong's life, gives all of us an opportunity to be able to learn and grow. I enjoyed the vulnerability of Dr. Hong's childhood thinking she was a nobody and a "garbagehead" to becoming an influential success to people all over the world.

If you are looking to be uplifted and inspired I highly r
Rosemae Maagad
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As an Asian, I can totally relate to the experiences of this author. The struggle of learning things even the absence of help and guidance from the teachers, and the lack of help and encouragement from the people you look up to. A remarkable story for students who are having a hard time in their school and who think to fail is irrelevant in their success. A story that will change your perspective about success and education. Highly recommended book! Thank you for inspiring us Dr. Hong!
Eve Jones
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As soon as I started reading this book I was captivated. I couldn't put it down. As Barbara describes her experiences in all aspects of her life was in awe. I could not believe someone who had gone through so much was so incredibly successful now. After I read the book I had a new appreciation for the opportunities for a good life that I was given. I have a new respect for Barbara and can see her strength and willingness to help others. As I learn more about how to become an effective teacher fr ...more
Abby Ramirez
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never thought that I would read books until I got interested in buying this book. I love how the author shared humble experiences which are true to life that gives us a lot of lessons about life. The author is from Asia which where I came from and I can relate to her experiences growing up in the reality of life. I felt that I wasn’t the only one who experienced the same thing. I felt that there was someone who felt the same way as I do. Im grateful for this book which taught me a lot of lesso ...more
Aloha Meyer
rated it liked it
Oct 01, 2018
Eric Lam
rated it it was amazing
Aug 25, 2018
Audrey Foster
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Oct 19, 2018
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Barbara Hong received her doctorate from Columbia University in Special Education in addition to three master’s degrees in Instructional Practices, Policy & Leadership, and as a Learning Specialist from the same institution. She was a three-time recipient of the prestigious Senior Fulbright Scholar award.

Hong has been a professor for more than sixteen years at the time of this publication and