Cover Image: The Tiger Mom's Tale

The Tiger Mom's Tale

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Member Reviews

If you love a story with a secret at it's core, you won't be disappointed by this read. The unfolding of the secret  just teeters on frustrating. I mean to say, its like when the chapter ends and you go "oh come on, tell me what happened already.!" So you just keep going until it is revealed. The author uses this device flawlessly. Along with this central storyline there are wonderful relationships in the story between sisters and family. The story goes back and forth in time and place, alternating to Taiwan and you get some wonderful descriptions of food along the way. Book clubs will enjoy this.
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Thank you to Berkley Pub for the digital arc of this title.

One sentence review:  I thought this story was an interesting one that tells the story of a girl of mixed heritage who finds out about her estranged father's death and is forced to face painful experiences from her past to move forward in the present.

Tiger Mom's Tale centers around Lexa.  Her mother, and the family she grew up in, are all blond haired, while Lexa looks like her father, a man living with his family in Taiwan.  As a result Lexa has always felt as though she didn't quite belong.  As a young child when she visits her father in Taiwan, she finally feels as though she belongs, until something goes terribly wrong.   Decades later Lexa is forced to face this past when her father passes away.

My thoughts:

- I thought the author did an excellent job of capturing that sense of not quite fitting in anywhere that people of mixed heritage are often made to feel.  As someone of mixed heritage myself, this element of the book really spoke to me.
- I enjoyed learning more about Taiwan. I also like how the author explained Lexa's years of Chinese School so that she would be conversant enough in Mandarin to be able to speak with her family members in Taiwan.
- The story really hooked me from the start.  However as the story progressed it felt like it went a little long.  Things started to feel repetitive and probably could have been resolved a little quicker.

I recommend this book to people looking for a book with Asian American or mixed heritage representation. It would also be a good choice for those that enjoy family dramas.
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I am absolutely awestruck by this stellar debut. This book had everything that I love within its pages: a complicated family; nuanced, highly imperfect characters that I still empathized with; secrets coming to light years later; beautiful prose and pacing; and themes of redemption, identity, forgiveness, and family.

While my own experience as a Chinese American is very different than the MC Lexa’s (who is Taiwanese-American, estranged from her Taiwanese heritage and embracing fully her American side at the start of the book), I felt so seen in her. Whether it’s her dating experiences (dealing with “yellow fever”), fluctuating between not feeling American enough or Asian enough, or balancing her Taiwanese side with her white family (she takes after her Taiwanese father, not her American mother). I have felt those struggles my whole life, and this book put that experience so beautifully into words in a character who was strong, intelligent, and likable, but with a lot to learn and room to grow.

This family drama had twists I would never have guessed, and I loved how it switched back and forth in time, revealing the secrets with great pacing. Even the most unlikable characters forced me to try to empathize with them by the end, which takes a great writer to be able to do. This book made me smile and it made me cry. It made my mouth water with all the delicious food descriptions! But most importantly, it reminded me that no family is perfect and it’s never too late to forgive and seek peace, while not condoning the wrong actions of others.

I feel like this book is not getting the hype it deserves! So hopefully this review encourages someone to pick it up — I can’t wait to see what else Lynn Liao Butler comes up with in the future!
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Lexa’s white, blond American mom had an affair while on vacation and got pregnant with Alexa.  She unsuccessfully tried to find the baby’s father. A few years later, her friends found him (they’d had overlapping friend groups).  He was Taiwanese and was thrilled to learn about Alexa.  At this point both of her parents had married and Lexa had two younger half-sisters.  Lexa started a relationship with her biological dad.  His wife was not thrilled with this relationship (understatement!).  Lexa visited Taiwan or her father visited the States until  she was fourteen.  Something happened in Taiwan and the visits and contact stopped.  She’s now in her mid-thirties and working as a personal trainer in NYC.  Her Taiwanese half-sister calls her with the news that her father had suddenly died.  She also asks Alexa to come to Taiwan.

Along with Lexa figuring out how she feels about her father’s death and the opportunity to face her Taiwanese relatives again, she is also in the early stages of a relationship.  And her American half-sister, Maddie, is struggling in her relationship.  Her mother is questioning her sexuality.  Her Taiwanese half-sister has a disability and is struggling to protect her Taiwanese family.  All of these storylines going on at the same time made this story feel both a little over the top (soap opera, anyone?) and kind of real.  Life is messy and there often is a lot going on.  Because there was so much going on, we didn’t go too deep into a lot of the scenarios.  Personally, I found this to be an enjoyable read and was comfortable with everything that was going on with all the characters. It definitely kept me engaged!

Themes and content include: family estrangement, evil step-mother, identity issues (not American or Chinese enough), traumatic event, grief

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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This is such a cute story and it's a breath of fresh air to see more bi-racial representation where I can relate to SO MUCH MORE.  Completely understand being half white and half Asian and not being fully accepted in either country.  Butler also touches on the fetishization of Asian women and those scenes rang all too true unfortunately. And I certainly remember my mom wondering where the other 3 points went when I got a 97 on a test once. I HEAR YOU, Lexa & Hsu-Ling! 

This debut really teaches a few lessons and was relatable on so many levels.  I did find a few things that didn't *quite* work for me.  I felt that Lexa and Josh are eye rolly - too much too fast for how long they "knew" each other. Sometimes the dialogue didn't feel very natural and it could veer too much on the side of after school special.  I also don't care for men who continually questions if a woman actually doesn't want to have children when they say they don't... but I get it a little bit in this case.  Still made my butt pucker a bit.

What is absolutely FANTASTIC about this book are the lessons within.  I love, love, LOVE understanding so much how Lexa felt in Taiwan as that's how I feel in Korea all the time.  I love that there is queer and disabled represenation within this read. I love the dual storylines and the atmosphere the author gives us while we travel to Taiwan. Absolutely looking forward to the next book from this author.
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Reading about Lexa’a story as she struggles with all the changes in her life and revisiting her past was very interesting. The story was well told between the past and the present and seeing the relationships between the families Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC. .
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Lexa has never been white enough or Asian enough for her family, which has always left her on the outside. Years ago, she felt like she had a place in Taiwan with her father, but that's water under the bridge now. Her father has died, leaving Lexa with a rather large inheritance, but that also brings her to a crossroads. She can choose to leave her family in Taiwan behind forever, or she can confront the past and claim her place in the family. In order to do that, she'll need to gather her courage, her half-sisters, and her mom to remove the wedge that was driven between her and her family all that time ago.

Family can be tough sometimes, can't it? I really felt for Lexa as she dealt with being torn between cultures, how she wasn't doing this enough or that enough, and how the people who were supposed to love her instead shunned her simply for being caught in between some intense family drama since childhood. Lexa and her father used to get along, and then things changed, and it wasn't necessarily their fault. Why did it all happen? Lexa doesn't have much of a choice but to return to Taiwan and dig up old memories when her father's will indicates she needs to return home to claim what is hers.

However, it's not what's in the will, but what's in Lexa's heart, that remains the most important. The Tiger Mom's tale is a story of courage, family drama, and the chance for new beginnings, assuming the ghosts of the past can be put to rest. Recommended for readers who might have felt like an outsider in their own family, who enjoy stories about contrasts in culture, and readers who hope that the events of the past haven't written the story of tomorrow.

4.5 ⭐
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This story had so much unexpected depth that I really enjoyed. I was expecting a light, fun CRAZY RICH ASIANS-esque story, but this was on more serious scale than I expected. I sympathized with Lexa, straddling not being Taiwanese enough and not being American enough. She never had a real opportunity to understand her background, as an unfortunate event ensures that she never returns back to Taiwan and her estranged “other” family. Lexa isn’t the only one going through some tough life changes - it seems like everyone in both of her families are dealing with their own issues and it piled, and distracted a bit from Lexa’s story.
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This fell a bit short for me. The premise grabbed my attention but once I started reading it, the story felt really over the top and actually read more like a soap opera than fiction to me.  Sometimes that works if there's an element of humor or tongue-in-cheek feel to it but this just felt melodramatic.  Even the big reveal didn't hit the mark for me, I think I was expecting a lot worse given the amount of shame and secrecy that revolved around the secret.  I guess I just didn't relate.  The part I did relate to was how Lexa did not feel fully Taiwanese while in Taiwan and fully American/white in America.  Although I'm Korean-American, I know when I visited Korea in the 90s there was a feeling that Korean-American kids weren't REALLY Korean. And of course American kids always saw me as Asian and probably never considered that I'm an American as well.  Seeing that tension and pull in a book was awesome and I'm sure that representation really resounds with many readers out there.
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Lexa is half-Taiwanese but grew up in a family of blondes. When she was 8 she started visits with her Taiwanese father, until that summer when something happened that caused her to stop speaking to her Taiwanese family. 22 years later, her father dies and Lexa is faced with a choice: return to Taiwan and claim her inheritance or leave that part of her family in her past for good (and cause them to lose their homes in the process).

For the first half, the story is told between current moment and the story of Alexa’s childhood visits to Taiwan, starting 28 years ago. This creates an element of mystery and leaves you wondering what exactly happened “that summer” that led to Alexa and her father’s annual visits to stop and ended their relationship. This book has everything: it’s a story that shows how complex families can be, one where the main character is able to really find herself, it has a little romance, many delicious food descriptions, a lot of love, and ALL the drama. Like crazy soap opera levels of drama. This one had me hooked from the beginning and kept me engaged the whole way through because I truly had no idea what was coming.

Thanks to Berkley Publishing, NetGalley, and Let’s Talk Books Promo for the early copy in exchange for an honest review.
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I’m so glad that more and more books have Asian representation now and not just as sidekicks, but as protagonists. This book weaves a beautiful tale of how Lexa, a half-White half-Taiwanese woman, found her identity and embraced her Taiwanese heritage after more than 2 decades of being denied, not for lack of trying but because of other people’s treachery. As in most Asian cultures, the expression of love and care is through eating good food together and bonding by cooking hand-me-down recipes. The mention of hawker food stalls and homemade dumplings certainly made me hungry and evoked my own childhood memories of my amah/grandmother cooking aromatic chinese food in our home. I appreciated the inclusion of wake/funeral customs and the belief of spirits unable to rest if they have unfinished business. I didn’t mind the racist comments/stereotypical assumptions against Asians, although I was annoyed!!! But, these are all eye-openers and needed to be addressed to educate readers. Points to the author for doing it appropriately! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 Reading this novel was quite an experience for me. I love the writing style and character development. The ending was bittersweet too. Truly a satisfying book worth reading! Highly recommended!
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I received a gifted galley of THE TIGER MOM’S TALE by Lyn Liao Butler for an honest review. Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review!

THE TIGER MOM’S TALE follows Lexa, a young woman who is half Taiwanese and half white. She was raised by her white mother with a stepfather and a sister who she loves, but with whom she doesn’t always feel she fits in. She was able to get to know her father and his Taiwanese family a bit, but something went wrong and she no longer sees them. So when she gets news from her Taiwanese sister that their father has died, she is shaken.

This book takes on a lot of topics including racism, fetishism, and homophobia. The book begins with Lexa’s mom leaving her stepfather for a woman, something Lexa’s sister doesn’t take well at all. Her sister is also pretty negative when it comes to anything about Lexa’s other family. I think the author took a good look at Lexa’s feelings of being trapped between different worlds and different families and not especially feeling that she fits in with either, especially when facing racism even within her own family.

I did struggle with some of Lexa’s attitudes toward her personal trainer clients. One of her clients is a young woman who talks about how her father calls her fat and constantly insults her. Lexa’s response to that is to say he’s her father and she’d miss him if he wasn’t around which was very off putting to me. Yes he’s her father, but emotional abuse is abuse.

I enjoyed the dual timeline approach to this one. We saw what Lexa was going through in the present day and also slowly uncovered the mystery of what happened on that last summer when she was visiting her father and his family.
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With a title and book cover like this one, it was hard not to be tempted to want to read it, and so, read it I did. At first, judging from its title, I was expecting a story that was going to be told from a tiger mom’s point of view, but I soon found out, right from the start, that it was a story about Alexa Thomas, or fondly known as Lexa, a personal trainer living in New York City who led a busy life catering to the demands of her health-conscious clients.

The book opened with Lexa being told by her mother that she was leaving him for another woman, Phoenix. Despite being shocked by the news, Lexa was more willing to accept her mother’s new relationship as compared to Maddie, who was mad at her for leaving her father. As the story progressed, we’d come to learn that Maddie was having some marital problems too and was overwhelmed by everything that was thrown at her at once.

While learning to accept her mother’s relationship, Lexa soon found out that there was more in store for her. Her Taiwanese sister, Hsu-Ling had just informed her that her biological father whom she had not met for more than 20 years, had passed away in a tragic accident. Hsu-Ling was coming to meet her in NYC because, according to her, Lexa was part of the father’s will. On top of that, Lexa found out that her Taiwanese family was going to lose their home and she was the only one who could save them from having nowhere to live.

As much as she was shocked to learn that she was part of her father’s will and was given such a big responsibility to save her Taiwanese family, Lexa was in a dilemma—should she help a family who had once betrayed her and her trust more than two decades ago? Do they deserve to be forgiven? Despite all these, she was also juggling a long-distance relationship with a man whom she had fallen head over heels with. But she couldn’t see a future with him, not only because they lived so far away, but also because he wanted children and she didn’t. What would and should Lexa do?

The story flowed seamlessly, kudos to the author’s storytelling skills. She kept this reader at bay as to what the family secret was, at the same time, introducing other characters into the story. While going back and forth between the present and the past when Lexa visited Taiwan with her mother, you could feel how conflicted Lexa was in being caught up between her two families, one in America and the other in Taiwan. And not only was she learning about her new family, but at the same time, she was also discovering the other part of her by learning the language, absorbing the culture, tasting new food, and most of all, trying to reaffirm her identity as part Chinese. Was she Chinese enough to be Chinese? Fortunately, besides the weather, she adapted easily and the Changs were very welcoming; the father doted on her, spoiling her with gifts and good food, and Hsu-Ling, her sister, whom I thought, would be jealous of her with the attention she was getting from her father, instead loved Lexa just as much as her father, even grandma and Uncle Pong grew fond of Lexa. All of them, except for one, which you’ll find out in the story.

On the other hand, her American family was trying to adjust to some changes too. Maddie was trying to work out on her marriage while trying to care for her kids, while Susan was reprioritising her life now that she was in a new relationship, and Greg, Lexa’s stepdad, seemed to be mysteriously occupied too. Will the Thomas family be able to cope with all that was going on? Will Lexa be able to find a right balance between her two families and her love life?

My favourite parts were definitely Lexa’s first visit to Taiwan, when she was introduced to all the popular hangouts and the local delicacies. Just reading about the sesame balls got me all craving for them. I love red bean sesame balls and didn’t know they were sold in Taiwan too. And not to mention stinky tofu! I had always thought it was a Hong Kong thing. And of course, who doesn’t love bubble tea. Have I mentioned the floating fish balls? They are so popular in Taiwan that they are sold in Malaysia too, and the Malaysians love them. When traveling is safe again, Taiwan will be one of my destinations to visit.

I also enjoyed reading about the chemistry Lexa shared with her sisters, Maddie and Hsu-Ling. Although their differences in personalities got on to Lexa’s nerves in the beginning, always having to walk on eggshells when being in their company, she eventually learned how to navigate between her sisters and allowed nature to take its course.

There was nothing I didn’t like about the novel, although I did wish the characters were more developed, as I felt they were slightly compromised because of the many other side characters that were introduced, which I felt weren’t integral to the story, like her crush, Yung; the bartender Rob; some of her clients like Christy and Kiley, her shi-fu and a few others. And I also felt the kung-fu parts and towards the ending when she met a stranger at the Confucius statue, were a little forced. That aside, I appreciated the author’s intention of including the other characters to bring discuss other themes besides family, identity, and love, such as racism, Asian women fetishism, and body image. Yes, there were a lot that the author tried to achieve in one novel; an attempt I respect, this being her first novel.

If you’re looking for a quick story to devour, give this a gander, especially if you love a good family drama, and one that includes learning something about our Asian culture and Taiwanese food!
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THE TIGER MOM'S TALE centers around Lexa Thomas, a biracial woman who used to visit her Taiwanese father as a child. However something happened in a fateful summer in Taiwan and she stopped being in contact with him. When her father unexpectedly dies, she has to travel back to Taiwan and confront the events of the past.

The story is mainly about Lexa's journey to claim her Taiwanese heritage - being biracial, she often feels not Asian nor American enough. I thought that Butler captures in an authentic way her struggles with identity and belonging.

My favorite parts are definitely her time in Taiwan, with accurate cultural elements shining through the pages: it's impressive how the food, which is mentioned throughout the story, can bring back (sweet) memories and comfort us (niurou mien, tian bu la, tai yang bing, rou geng, stinky tofu, bao bing, turnip cake, bubble tea...); allied with well-known places such as Sun Moon lake and original bubble teahouse in Taichung. The fact that her relatives keep offering food just reminded me of my own experiences, in addition to "anything goes here in Taiwan when it comes to traffic rules" is so true to reality. There's even a typical Taiwanese tiger mom, who is strict, demands perfect scores and requires full days of supplementary learning classes. It was heartwarming to read Lexa's family traditions/superstition which hit so close to home.

The queer representation in this novel is appreciated since this is a theme quite taboo in Taiwanese culture. By touching on fetishization of Asian women, whiteness and disability, the story is multilayered without being overly dense. Shifting between past and present, as the secrets from the past are unfolded, the plot grabs the reader and doesn't let us go. Both storyline and characters were well-crafted and what intrigued me the most was the emotional letter. While Lexa's (personal trainer) conversations with her clients weren't the most interesting, I still found them dynamic and therapeutic, adding a lighter tone to the plot. The ending might seem too nicely wrapped up for some readers yet I personally enjoyed it.

With fluid prose, THE TIGER MOM'S TALE is a family drama packed with betrayals and intrigues but also warmth and insights to Taiwanese culture. I can't believe that this is a debut and this book is everything and more than I had expected. I want everyone to read it!
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I adored this book. It made me feel so, so much. Lexa such a complex and relatable main character-she has struggled with belonging her entire life, and the author does such a fantastic job of explaining the sense of displacement Lexa has experienced and the circumstances that have led to her being such a guarded, cautious person. For most of the book the setting is modern day NYC but (big but) Lexa's life story, in particular in relation to her Taiwanese family, is described in long flashbacks to her childhood/early teenage years. First of all, I'm a sucker for stories in which big past events are hinted at and then slowly revealed throughout the narrative, and in TTMT it was done sooooo well. Second: I loooved the descriptions of Taiwan and above all, the food. I need a sesame ball, stat. Also pineapple ice. Seriously, they should come with the book!! And this story has a big cast, with lots of things happening and lots of characters with their own lives and wants and needs, and I have to say: the author is a narrative genius because some of these characters I really, really hated, but by the end I felt for them and really understood their motivations. COMPLEXITY!!!! Oh, also I adored Lexa's interactions with her clients! She's a personal trainer who sort of moonlights as a psychologist with her clients and it made me lover her/the clients even more!.

I don't want to give out spoilers, but the ending was SO UPLIFTING. This is not strictly a romance, but I just loved that the book described Lexa's journey through accepting herself, finding her own place in the world, and dealing with hurts of the past and unsolved trauma to slowly become ready to open her heart and embrace her future, and I loved how this journey was symbolized by her relationships with Jake. 

90 stars out of 5,
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Lexa has always felt out of place. Too Asian to fit in with her white family and too American to fit in with her Taiwanese family. He estranged Taiwanese father dies unexpectedly and it forces Lexa to face her past. Lexa faces insecurities from the past, a scandal, and learning the truth about her family. She learns the true meaning of family.

What an incredible debut! I loved everything about this book. It was incredible!

Thank you NetGalley and Berkley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Pub Date: July 6
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I loved this smart, fun novel about a young women stuck between two identities. I was immediately drawn in not just by the main character, Lex, but also by the wonderfully vivid cast around her. I particularly loved the scenes set in Taiwan, which Butler brought to life with so much colour. Her descriptions of food are sublime - I defy anyone to read this book and not feel hungry! This is a beautifully written debut novel and I cannot wait to read whatever the author writes next.
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Thank you Berkley Books for a copy of this book. I love really enjoyed Lexa’a story as she struggles with all the changes in her life and revisiting her past. As an Asian American, I have experienced not being Chinese enough and her dating experience of guys into Asian women. The story was so well told between the past and the present and seeing the relationships between the families.
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What a way to come out of the gate with a debut novel! Bravo this book was so complex yet easy to read. I can’t explain it, in many scenes it was as if I was there I had all the feels that this young girl had. Vivid descriptions of mouth-watering meals, you can almost taste them. A story of belonging, betrayal, and the bonds between family that can never be broken. This is a must read
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What a fun endearing read! Seriously, what’s not to love? A dive into a different culture, a gutsy heroine who wants to reclaim her family and cultural identity, travel through food and to Taiwan, and a touch of romance.

I loved the complexity that the author built into the novel. Over the first half I learned to love Lexa, a personal trainer who is comfortable in her life in New York, but has never gotten past the estrangement from her birth father and family in Taiwan.

I gasped out loud at one moment in this book – about half way through when Lexa, the heroine reads a letter that sets up an undeniable choice; return to Taiwan to save the family she’s estranged from, or stay in her comfortable US life.

A beautiful fun and uplifting story of a family torn apart-  a reminder that family can make us who we are – but also let– down and cause pain. But mostly a remembrance of the beauty, warmth, and universality of family ties, across continents and cultures.

This novel left me wanting to hear more from Lexa, and dying to visit Taiwan, drink bubble tea and eat sesame balls.

If you love to travel through books and enjoy books packed with food, family, friends, love, and secrets, this one’s for you! 

I can’t wait for Lyn’s second book – already scheduled for 2022 apparently!
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