C.G. Drews's Reviews > The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 5-star, aussie-authors, contemporary, young-adult, read-2019

Oh I am here to tell you I just read the most WONDERFUL story. My heart is just so full of emotions right now...like 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 #ownvoices stories
And this was, of course, amazing! Anna is Chinese and struggles with diaspora at times. She knows in her heart there is no "right way" to be Chinese, but she speaks only basic Cantonese and often the fear gnaws at her that she's not a good Chinese daughter. She has so so much love for her culture though, and the part she connects to most: the FOOD. I mean, look at the title ok. That is Anna's belief. Food can bring people together. She dreams of helping run her dad's Chinese restaurant, but she's supposed to be in school being the "good Chinese daughter" and getting good grades. Also, on that note? I really loved the discussion how doing well in school shouldn't JUST be about ATARs and getting into uni to be a doctor or whatever. There is literally nothing wrong with aspiring to work instead of go to uni. I'm so so glad the book touched on that.

// and can we just talk about Anna??? who I would die for
She is the absolute softest and broke my heart as she tried so desperately and lovingly to keep her family afloat. She's basically taking on the Mum-role, with her own mum in a depressive spiral. Her relationship with her 13yo sister Lily was SO relatable (they loved each other but also snark and snarl eeeep; it me and my sister) and everyone's mutual adoration for their little 5yo brother Michael. Anna went through so so much, but so much of it was invisible emotional stress. She just tells herself she SHOULD be doing all this stuff, keeping the family together, looking after the house and her siblings, being good at school, etc etc. And she gives herself zero room to just...break down.

Also snipey Anna who stands up for herself? 😘I love her.

And Anna's whole arc of just...finding her footing, being okay with things not being "normal", with finding the language to be hurt? It was beautiful, exceptionally well-written, relatable, and emotional. I've not adored a protagonist like this for a while so !!! ANNA.

// romance
Um, please buckle up for THE cutest romance in the world. She meets Rory while working for her dad's restaurant, and he's like...the Softest Boi as well. Look, I like opposite attracts couples too. But SOFT HUFFLEPUFF ROMANCES = yes hold still I'm going to cry on you.

Also Rory's depression rep was done so well. It made me ache, and I loved how it was handled: how you can be good, you can be okay, but that doesn't mean you get to stop taking care of yourself. Triggers happen. Things slide. Rory was absolutely precious.

// mental illness
As someone who struggles with mental illness myself, I really look for books that leave breadcrumbs of hope. This DID. It balanced the darkness vs the healing so well. And how, ok, things aren't necessarily going to get better or be perfect in the end. But the fight is worth it. You are worth it. Rory's gentle healing vs Anna's mothers psychotic episodes that the family tried to ignore, where an incredibly done contrast. And there was a lot of culture discussion too about how mental illness is discussed, about how some Chinese people don't talk about mental illness at all.

Anyway. I want to cRY but in a very very good way. This book made me feel warm, it filled my heart with the sibling strife and love, the romance that was gentle and tentative, the character arcs and Anna's soft strength. All the stars!!
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Reading Progress

August 21, 2019 – Shelved
August 21, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
September 18, 2019 – Started Reading
September 18, 2019 –
page 130
33.16% "ahhh I already adore this and pretty much want to protect Anna forever 😭💛"
September 18, 2019 – Finished Reading
September 18, 2019 – Shelved as: 5-star
September 19, 2019 – Shelved as: aussie-authors
September 19, 2019 – Shelved as: contemporary
September 19, 2019 – Shelved as: young-adult
September 19, 2019 – Shelved as: read-2019

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Essie-Marie (new) - added it

Essie-Marie W. Normally I don't read cutesy sounding fluff but you've sold me. *clicks Want To Read*

C.G. Drews Essie-Marie wrote: "Normally I don't read cutesy sounding fluff but you've sold me. *clicks Want To Read*"

While I love cutesy reads, I don't actually think this is fluff. It deals with a lot of dark topics, especially surrounding mental illness.

Katie (The Storybook Sisters) okay WHY ISN'T THIS OUT IN THE US YET. I have a sudden desire to live in Australia. I wonder why -_-

C.G. Drews -ˏˋKatieˊˎ- wrote: "okay WHY ISN'T THIS OUT IN THE US YET. I have a sudden desire to live in Australia. I wonder why -_-"

It will be available in places that ship worldwide, like Blackwells, Book Depository and Amazon :)

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