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The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  134 ratings  ·  42 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
Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published August 5th 2019 by Allen & Unwin (first published August 2019)
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4.46  · 
Rating details
 ·  134 ratings  ·  42 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’
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.

Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 RTC.
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Cheska the Great is Not Okay
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Libby Armstrong
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.
Dimity Powell
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Don't know how I missed adding this one back when I read it. It's a lovely mix of sweetness and serious. It's an empathetic glimpse into culture and identity.

Detailed and nuanced.
♠️ TABI ♠️
I for one am NOT surprised at the power of good dumplings because they're freaking magical okay
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, 2019
Finished this book within 24hours. Think is my first YA book centred around Asian characters with topics mental illness. I laughed, cringed and at times cried while reading this book.
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
Cass -  Words on Paper

I love Wai Chim, she's such a lovely person and so well spoken, intelligent and insightful. These traits show on the page in her writing. This is the first of her novels that I've read, though I do own Freedom Swimmer. I love that she allows a very real representation of Asian Australians (or Asians born in Western countries/cultures in general). I come from a Hong Kong Chinese background myself, and I could relate to a few of the family issues that arose in this narrative, particularly the s
Amra Pajalic
This is a beautiful novel that explores the reality of being a young adult with migrant parents and cultural bias about mental illness. Anna knows that something is not right with her Mum. She lies in bed for weeks at a time and experiences uncontrollable rage at others, but Anna has no words to deal with it. She struggles to be a good sister to her younger siblings and a good daughter, not leaving much time to be herself. When she meets Rory she gets an inkling of what a regular teenage life is ...more
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“There’s a saying in Cantonese that I quite like. If you say nothing, no one thinks you’re mute. That’s my social approach - nay, my life approach.”

I really loved Good Dumpling! Being Chinese and living in Sydney, there were a few things that resonated with me. It is rare to read a book that I can relate to culturally, even when Anna mentions how other Chinese describe her as a ‘bad Chinese’. Me 🙋♀. I’ve often been told I’m not Chinese because I can’t fluently speak or don’t follow customs.

Fiona Mackie
Loved this realistic slice of life. As the oldest sister, Anna is expected to care for her siblings as her father works long hours at their Chinese restaurant and often doesn’t get home. Anna’s mum has been in bed for several weeks, leaving Anna to be responsible and shoulder everything, especially the guilt she feels about not being the best daughter, big sister or best student. She's getting some grief from her teachers about her results, assignmments and her options for her final year at scho ...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
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wai Chim’s stunning new novel, The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling, is an engaging and totally immersive read - from which you will emerge heart-wrung and hungry. She explores cross-sections of Chinese-Australian experiences, and examines the impacts of mental illness on a family, with sensitivity and compassion. In this context, an utterly endearing love story is woven as her protagonist, Anna also grapples with racism and bullying, navigating the transition to adulthood and working out who ...more
Sep 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Understanding of how mental health is treated by different cultures and how it affects a family. Teenage years are difficult enough trying to find your tribe, the people who understand you, overcoming insecurities but when one of your parents has mental health needs and you have to become the adult at home is Anna’s challenge. Her family’s culture and language issues also hampers Anna at various times throughout the novel. First love and sibling love is dealt with beautifully and realistically. ...more
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a beautiful book! Loved the stories and the lessons all from a teenage perspective. Loved all the subtle, and not so subtle, cultural references. It made for a fun, and poetic read! Growing up in the innerwest of Sydney, I loved all the local references. I don’t think it matters how old you are, this is a must read book. I have already given copies to my nieces and Mum, and all have loved this book. It translates and touches everyone from any age who reads it. Quote from my teenage niece in ...more
Eliza Ng
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is probably the best & my favourite YA contemporary I’ve ever read!
I was never a big fan of the YA contemporary cause being a Chinese middle aged mom with a teenage kid , I just couldn’t be bothered with all these teenage drama. But this book is different & got my attention right from the very first page!
The way Chinese-Australian culture being portrayed in the book was so true & accurate its very relatable and made me both giggle and cringe at times while reading it. I also lo
Maisie Dickson(SleepyWiredStudios)
This was a lovely book. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing the characters and I loved reliving the horror of Year 11 and pathways.

I connected to Anna a lot, from the pressure of high school to chose the correct 'pathway' to dealing with a mother struggling with her mental health and trying to be the best daughter and support network and feeling like your failing. I cried a lot through this book as it spoke truths to me that I thought only I felt.

Also, i found it refreshing that the mental health
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4 and 1/2 stars.

The formatting and a couple of times not understanding if someone had said it in Cantonese or English because it didn't seem to be specified, let it down a bit for me. But would A+ recommend for anyone looking for a good read about family, school, life, mental health or a quick beach side summer or winter fireside read!
A lot of this book hit waaaaaay too close to home but it was almost nice seeing certain pieces of my history written down. That first page hit especially hard since I've been on both sides of it. I should message my dad.
Xiaomeng Liu
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Binged reading within an afternoon. Love it so much
As a Chinese reader, this amazing story was so genuine and relatable to me. I couldn't hold back my tears everytime Ma, the character spoke Cantonese. Reminded me a lot about my parents and grandparents overseas.
Amanda Witt
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A good read, with the typical ups and downs of a family struggling with one member who has a mental illness.
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Still wavering between a 4 or a 4.5 stars rating. Really wonderful book, so raw and felt so real!
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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.