The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on October 4th 2016
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.
I was provided an arc of this book from the publisher. This in no way affects my thoughts or feelings on the book.
This has to be one of the most delightful and humorous books I have read in a long time. It’s interesting to see the world through the eyes of someone who is of a different decent then you are. I’m a big supporter of needing more diversity in the books we read, so when I read the description of this book, I knew I had to jump at a chance to read it.
It was completely engulfing and captivating.
This book really took you on a roller coaster ride. You see the Wangs being on top of the world, an extremely over confident Charles feeling like he can take on everything – including America. Then suddenly, it all falls due to a carelessness on Charles’ part. Slowly it all starts to unravel. From kids being withdrawn from school, everything being locked down and held by the government, and hearts being broken. It truly is a riches to rags story.
In the beginning, it was hard for me to feel bad for Charles. I couldn’t find any sympathy for him at all. Slowly as the story develops and continues, I feel my heart starting to hurt for him. At the end of the book, I felt tears in my eyes. All he wanted was the success. He wanted to be the very best he could be but failed. Failure is a normal thing in life but for Charles, it was a nightmare almost. He couldn’t accept it. He honestly believed he wasn’t in the wrong when it came to the business, and then to find that someone had been living as him in China – It was never ending for him. I wanted it all to stop. I wanted something to work out for him. I wanted to take away his pain and return his pride and confidence to him.
Charles had amazing children. I loved each and every one of them for so many reasons. When Andrew did the unexpected in New Orleans I was so excited for him. Everyone needs to follow their heart and do what they feel is right. For him, this felt like the right thing to do. He jumped at the opportunity. He loved life for those few fleeting moments. He lived life the way I could only hope my girls do when they are older. Sometimes you need to step outside your comfort zone and go with the flow.
Saina was what I could only describe as a TRUE artist. I could picture her vividly in my mind from the moment she was first introduced. She was my favorite of all three children. She struggled with problems of the heart and you watched her make bad decisions just like any normal person would in their lifetime. That has to be one of the best things about the characters within the pages of this book. They are human. They feel like people you could know in everyday life.
Barbra started coming around near the end of the book, but I can’t say she was someone I enjoyed. She tried to keep her distance from the kids for reasons I can understand to a point but when a situation like this happens, I feel you need to try and be there for everyone. She stayed beside Charles despite everything they went through and it takes a strong woman to do that. To stand beside a man who crumbles to nothing. Both of them together at the end of the book was a beautiful sight. For everything she did and everything that happened, though I still can’t find it in myself liking her.
My only big complaint is the lack of translation with the Chinese in the book. I wanted to know what was being said, which involved going to Google Translate and trying to figure out what I was missing. It slowed me down and made reading the book take longer than I had hoped. I felt like I was missing out on information that could be important down the road, or that added to character development.
The Wangs Vs. The World is one of the most in-depth and wonderful books I’ve read in a long time. It was a big change from all of the young adult books I have been devouring. It’s nice to change things up and experience a new genre/read a genre you haven’t read in a while. All in all, I loved this book. It’s well worth the 4.5 stars that It’s getting from me. I hope you take the chance to pick it up and read it. Supporting diverse books is something we should all do as readers.