02 December 2016

The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang

Summary from Goodreads:
A hilarious debut novel about a wealthy but fractured Chinese immigrant family that had it all, only to lose every last cent—and about the road trip they take across America that binds them back together

One of Entertainment Weekly's Most Anticipated Titles of 2016
A Fall 2016 Barnes & Noble Discover Pick
A Publishers Lunch Fall 16 Buzz Book
A The Millions Most Anticipated Book
One of Library Journal’s “Five Big Debuts” for Fall 16

Charles Wang is mad at America. A brash, lovable immigrant businessman who built a cosmetics empire and made a fortune, he’s just been ruined by the financial crisis. Now all Charles wants is to get his kids safely stowed away so that he can go to China and attempt to reclaim his family’s ancestral lands—and his pride.

Charles pulls Andrew, his aspiring comedian son, and Grace, his style-obsessed daughter, out of schools he can no longer afford. Together with their stepmother, Barbra, they embark on a cross-country road trip from their foreclosed Bel-Air home to the upstate New York hideout of the eldest daughter, disgraced art world it-girl Saina. But with his son waylaid by a temptress in New Orleans, his wife ready to defect for a set of 1,000-thread-count sheets, and an epic smash-up in North Carolina, Charles may have to choose between the old world and the new, between keeping his family intact and finally fulfilling his dream of starting anew in China.

Outrageously funny and full of charm, The Wangs vs. the World is an entirely fresh look at what it means to belong in America—and how going from glorious riches to (still name-brand) rags brings one family together in a way money never could.

The Wangs vs. the World is a funny, poignant, and frustrating story of a family that had it made...until they didn't anymore. This is a "rich people behaving badly" story with a twist - a family of immigrants and first-generation Chinese-Americans and while some of them need a smack (ugh, Charles you're a turd) some of them need a hug (Grace, you're my favorite). Chang moved the narrative using geographic location in a way that it almost became another character. I feel like this is the mirror opposite to Imbolo Mbue's Behold the Dreamers, which is set in the same time period (2008 financial meltdown) but concerns an immigrant family in a very different set of circumstances. I'm very glad both books came out this year (and if you haven't read the Mbue, go do that, too).

It was such a treat to meet Jade Chang at Book Riot Live this year - I'm looking forward to her next book.  (And you can pick up The Wangs vs the World in the Barnes and Noble Discover Bay.)

Dear FTC: I bought my copy of this novel.

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