Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

Saturday, September 14, 2013

It has been mostly radio silence over here at The Story Girl. I got pretty busy when I had my baby ten (!) months ago. And now, two weeks ago, I started working full-time. So, needless to say, blogging has been pushed to the bottom of my to-do list.

I've played with the idea of quitting, taking one more obligation out of the equation. However, the fact remains that I love blogging. I love discussing books, and even though it is becoming an infrequent hobby, I'm not going to give it up.

I have about twenty books that I haven't reviewed, and for now, they are going to go unreviewed. The idea of catching up has kept me from blogging for weeks. I'm just going to start right here, where I've left off, and review the last book I read. And I'll keep doing that. Some time, I might feel like going back and reviewing an oldie. And then I will. Okay, ready for the actual review?

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is Amy Chua's story about how she forced her daughters to excel as musicians, and the ramifications it had for their relationships. On a broader note, it is her comparison of the Chinese style of parenting to the Western style of parenting. While she strongly believes the Chinese model is the way to go (and meets with dazzling success with her oldest daughter), her second daughter, Lulu, challenges all of Amy's assumptions as a mother.

I loved the idea of this book. In the United States, philosophies on parenting are so polarizing. As a parent and a nurse at a children's hospital, I see it all. I think most people lean toward the permissive, attachment-style parenting that hopes to engender creativity and confidence (but in my opinion often engenders irresponsible behavior and entitlement instead) (not that you asked for it. But there it is). I thought that while extreme, Ms. Chua's thoughts would be interesting and enlightening.

From the first few pages, I thought she was crazy. Stark, raving mad. She progresses through the book of course, changing from a completely rigid person to someone with more flexibility in her life.

However, despite Chua's forcefulness to her daughters, I could see the appeal of her way of parenting. Her children were (in theory) respectful, accomplished, and mature. I think discipline is essential and often neglected.

I'm getting rambly on my opinions, so I'll get to the point. The story itself was very readable and quick. Chua was extremely honest about what she believed and did, which I always appreciate in a memoir. She also reveals toward the end that she intended the book as a satire. It definitely did not come off as a satire at first, but in retrospect I can see it.

In short, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is an interesting exploration of a different way of life. It shows that the parenting style is not flawless, but it also shows some of the benefits that it does have. It is a good glimpse into another paradigm and gave some good entertainment as well.

3.5 stars

Warnings: None


  1. I'm glad to see that you're back and blogging. DO NOT beat yourself up for not reviewing every book you read, or when Real Life interferes with your blogging plans. It's all good--just do it at the pace that your life permits you to do it.

    I've read so many thing about this book and I'm not sure if I'll read it or not. As a non-parent, I'm often either amused or gobsmacked at the things I see that pass for parenting these days in our society. I don't know if children were actually better behaved in my childhood or not, but I know for certain that my mother never would have tolerated the kinds of behavior I see on a day to day basis in my retail job.

  2. *skitters in and parks herself on a beanbag* I just love to read your posts, however few and far between they may be! Your reviews are always tantalising and I think we all appreciate that blogging is just one more in a list of commitments that also involves, y'know, paid work. :)

    This book has been on Mount TBR for ages and is now finally right up near the top (meaning, I actually know where it is amongst the many book boxes I've just moved into our new house) so this review couldn't come at a better time. Despite not being a parent myself I'm always a little intrigued by different parenting styles and the things that impact a child growing up, so I can't wait to find out what all the Battle-Hymn fuss is all about!

  3. Glad you decided to hang in here, albeit somewhat sporadically. We would all miss your lovely reviews and posts.


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