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“An answer to Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, author Kim Wong Keltner’s Tiger Babies Strike Back takes the control-freak beast by the tail with a humorous and honest look at the issues facing women today—Chinese-American and otherwise.

Keltner, the author of the novels Buddha Baby and I Want Candy, mines her own past in an attempt to dispel the myth that all Chinese women are Tiger Mothers. Keltner strikes back at Chua’s argument through topics, including “East Meets West in the Board Room and the Bedroom,” and “I Was Raised by a Tiger Mom and All I Got Was this Lousy T-Shirt: A Rebuttal to Chua.””

I was really interested in this book because I had read Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother and LOVED IT. I though this would be the side of the story from a child that was raised by a tiger mom. Instead I got random, uninteresting stories from a woman who had an emotionally distant mother who thought she had a great deal of literary strength to pull off her great many wander metaphors and descriptions. The book read like a petulant child trying to get people to look at her by being smart.

I asked myself every dozen pages or so why I was still reading the book. The answer was always “she may actually talk about what her mother was like and how that has directly shaped her mothering”. That concept alone kept me reading. I love watching how interactions as a child can drastically change have an impact on someone. There was little that was about parenting either from the author’s mother or the author to her daughter. The few stories of the author being a mother were interesting and I enjoyed them, but they were few and far between.

This book is not what it advertises. It instead is a much broader look at tiger moms through family history (though a very patchy history that the author admits she knows little to nothing about). If I was interested in generalizations then this book would have been great. Instead the book advertised as a case study which is much more fascinating to me.

The book is not one that is badly written, but there is little to no plot. Many memoirs rely on telling shorter stories to show a point, but the author was unable to handle that format so the point of the memoir did not go through well at all. She writes with a great number of unneeded details that are very pretty, but that wasn’t what I was looking for and is not what I enjoy. So while the author has the skill to pull off pretty, she does not have the skill to pull off the memoir style she attempted. I may still give her other books a try, because my issues with her writing are not issues with fiction novels.


2 out of 5 stars. I would not recommend this book. ​

You can buy this book here.