Cover Image: The Tiger Mom's Tale

The Tiger Mom's Tale

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Member Reviews

3.5 rounded to 4
This is a structurally complicated book, especially for a debut novel. I was impressed by how much story Butler managed to pack in, as our heroine, who is half white, half Asian, has to not only navigate between these two cultures, but on top of that she must deal with a family breakup that created silence for the crucial years of her growing up.

The terms of a will draw her back to Taiwan, which otherwise she never wanted to see again. Along the way on her trip we meet family members (including her two very different half-sisters), elders as well as peers, and a reintroduction to Taiwan. Oh, and there is romance!

I got really involved in the story, though I had some misgivings, mostly centered on a pivotal character whose one-dimensional nastiness might edge a bit too close to stereotype. Especially given the title. [(And was given an easy pass at the end, without us every truly understanding how the character got to be so Eeevil.) 

But the other characters make up for it, the food descriptions are delicious, and the glimpses of Taiwan were intriguing. I was impressed overall by this debut novel, and look forward to more from this author.
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This book is an amazing read. It covers what it means to be in both worlds, American and Taiwanese. I love the contrast between the two worlds.. I would love to see more books like this aimed at the Asian-American audience. It covers the landscape of living in New York and provides a descriptive anecdote of what Taiwan looks like to American eyes. The main character is lovable. Before the last chapter ended, it was tear-jerking and I could almost see this on a Netflix movie.
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I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Lexi has two half sisters--one with her mother and one with her dad.  When life throws some curve balls, the three of the women come together to figure out how to move forward.
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This is a fantastic book by debut novelist Lyn Liao Butler! It had a little bit of everything: suspense, romance, sibling rivalry, and vivid descriptions of Taiwan and food. SO MUCH FOOD. I felt for poor Lexa and what she'd suffered at the hands of a jealous and desperate woman who should have known better! My interest was piqued from the start, desperate to know what had kept her away from her family in Taiwan for twenty years and the answer did not disappoint. There were times I wanted to strangle Lexa's American half-sister, but even she experienced character development. It was interesting yet heartbreaking to learn the types of bias and racist attitudes experienced by Asian women. Finally, I got the chills in the final scenes when Lexa found peace. I highly recommend this novel to fans of women's fiction, especially those who enjoy some romantic elements. But fair warning: don't read hungry!
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Pros :: Strong debut book and excellent weave of two cultures. Good story line, interesting main characters and really good segue's from the end of the chapter to the beginning of the next. The family dynamics were realistic, relatable and so interesting to read about the Taiwanese culture. The chapters were well paced and interesting. Going back in time and then jumping to the current time smooth. Will look for more books from this author.

Cons :: Felt that some of the dialogue was stilted and a bit repetitive (ie Lexa going on the date and then relating it almost verbatim to her friends. Felt that Pin-Yen's conversion to see her own faults was a bit sudden, however the reason why she acted like she did towards Hsu-Ling (the tiger's mom) and Lexa was well laid out.

Cover art :: 5 out 5; Excellent
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Plot: 4/5 Characters: 4/5 Writing: 3/5

36-year old Alexa Thomas is hit with a double whammy when she learns that Chang Jing Tao — her Taiwanese biological father — is dead after 22 years of estrangement and that it is up to her whether or not his extended Taiwanese family will lose their homes.  A personal trainer in New York City who loves her clients, Alexa was raised by her white American mother and adoptive father. Efforts to learn more about her Taiwanese family came to a screeching halt the summer she was 14 and had a lot to do with the titular Tiger Mom — Jing Tao’s second wife.

A fun book with good writing and likable characters.  Butler is a great storyteller, and I confess I read this in a single sitting on one insomniac night!  Taiwanese culture is explored — mostly through mouth watering food descriptions but with some customs and the tiniest bit of history added in.  While hitting plenty of hot topic buttons (being bi-racial, not fitting in, family break up, and … wait for it … the exploration of one’s sexuality at an “elderly” age), they weren’t the agenda laden center of the book.  Instead they were simply influencing factors of Alexa’s life.  We all have individual personalities and contexts in our lives, and I like to see “hot topic” forces relegated to the background of one person’s individual story.
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Enjoyed this book.  Main characters were easy to get invested in.  Too many side stories and characters for my taste.  Enjoyed the descriptions of the wonderful food.  Book clubs will enjoy this book as there are many topics to discuss.  I think this will be easy to sell.
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I absolutely loved this book! THE TIGER MOM'S TALE is an expertly woven family drama that deeply explores the complexities of identity. The book's fiery heroine, Lexa, is caught between her two families--her mother, step father and half sister in New York City, and her father, and half sister  in Taiwan. The two settings are incredibly vivid, and richly drawn to show the great contrast between them, and help us to understand why Lexa feels that she does not belong completely in one or the other. The author writes passionately about Taiwanese culture, paying particular attention to what makes it so unique (And with fabulous food descriptions! Yum!!)  One of the things I like best about this book are how complex and flawed each of the female characters are written. All of the women are strong in such different ways. Butler creates real magic as she brings these women together under difficult circumstances of anger, grief, and compassion. Their heartfelt (and sometimes heated!) conversations had me turning the pages faster and faster. There are moments of human silliness and belly laughter, as well as scenes of gut wrenching tension, and Butler balances these tones expertly. I loved the way the book dipped back in time, and across settings, and included perspectives from every side of the story. Butler is certainly a master of character and relationships, and I cannot wait to meet her next cast!
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Upon hearing the premise of this book, it instantly became one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I mean, a biracial Taiwanese-American woman reclaiming her heritage and getting caught up in a web of family secrets? What could go wrong? A lot, apparently, because The Tiger Mom's Tale was hands down the worst book I have read so far this year.

Starting off with what few positives there were, I think this book includes some important topics such as ableism, the fetishization of Asian women, and the struggles of belonging faced by biracial individuals. However, the way these topics were discussed was severely lacking and, when combined with the other aspects of this book, left a sour taste in my mouth.

Even though I was super excited to dive into this book, from the first page, something just felt off. The book kicks off with the main character, Lexa, finding out that her mother has left her dad for a woman. While Lexa does become generally accepting of her mother's new relationship, the same cannot be said for Maddie, who completely refuses to acknowledge their mother's girlfriend. While I can completely understand that hearing that your parents are splitting up is upsetting to hear, the way Maddie reacted and behaved throughout the book just felt vaguely homophobic. In addition, it also became very clear to me from the beginning that the writing style in this book was not for me. I don't want to say it was bad per se, but it was just... very mediocre and the dialogue was also EXTREMELY cringy. Another thing that started early on in the book and bugged me throughout was the lowkey fatphobic remarks that are thrown around and never addressed or challenged. Lexa is a personal trainer, and while I guess I imagine it's realistic, some of the things both she and her clients say and think just felt kind of icky to me.

Despite a rocky start, I continued on with the book because I wanted to give it a fair chance. It did not get better.

I think the main thing that this book suffered from was that it tried to do too much, which made it impossible for me to connect with...anything. On the surface, Lexa and I have a lot in common. Aside from being Taiwanese but living in North America, her Taiwanese family is from Taichung and their last name is Chang (same as me! which I was very excited to find out). I went into this book ready to fall in love with her, and I just didn't. There were also far too many side characters that weren't fleshed out and who I just didn't care about. I hated Maddie with a burning passion, didn't care about Lexa's love interest or her mom or her mom's girlfriend or her dad or her other dad, and the handful of Lexa's friends we meet were forgettable and didn't add to the story. We are also introduced to a bunch of Lexa's clients and none of their stories were interesting to me in the slightest. As for the story, the main plot is Lexa uncovering a bunch of family secrets and us learning about why she has not returned to Taiwan since a trip when she was 14. It's told in alternating timelines, which I actually thought was alright as it kept me invested in the story. However, there are also like 20 different subplots that just gave me whiplash to read about and that I also DID NOT CARE ABOUT. I won't go into them because of spoilers but it was lowkey impressive how these subplots were simultaneously overwhelming and also did not add to the characters or the story at all.

Some other things that bugged me because I've run out of brainpower to write things in coherent paragraphs:
- The mandarin dialogue that was present in this book felt very clunky and not like how Taiwanese people speak, at least from my experiences
- There were some weird age gap-ish relationships that were just there...for no reason...and not addressed? for WHY?
- Lexa refers to herself as Chinese, saying wo shi zhongguo ren, which is inherently an issue but it was just weird seeing a Taiwanese character refer to herself that way
- At one point there is mention of Lexa's mom "changing her sexual orientation" which is... not a great way of describing the situation
- At the end, a big bad thing happens and the person that does the big bad thing and has been doing big bad things throughout the book is forgiven WAY too easily

The only thing I enjoyed about this book was Ah-ma, even the food descriptions were underwhelming.

Needless to say, I really wouldn't recommend this book to anyone and am very sad that this book didn't work for me as I was highly anticipating this release by a Taiwanese-American author.
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Upon reading the blurb for this book, I was excited. A story of Lexa, a biracial woman reconnecting with her Taiwanese identity? An exploration of her not feeling Asian enough in certain spaces, and not white enough in others? Those feelings sounded all too familiar to me, and I was anxious to read a book that dove into such hard-to-communicate themes. That being said, this story fell drastically short. 

This book felt disorganized. Plot points were consistently shoved into the story, seemingly to make the characters more three-dimensional, but only really served to dilute the overall message of the book. The dialogue between any and all characters was distractedly unrealistic; I found myself consistently pausing to push through dialogue that was either overloaded with cliches or completely bizarre in its structure. What two people have a conversation over dinner that starts with small talk about work, devolves into a question about wanting children, then becomes a spontaneous discussion about experiencing a personal death (all within less than 2 pages)? 

Additionally, I really fear how the stereotypes portrayed in this book will translate to readers not of Asian descent. The "Tiger Mom" trope can be damaging, even more so when the Tiger Moms shown in books aren't just strict mothers with expectations, but are fully unhinged, vindictive, and violent characters. Tiger Mom doesn't automatically correlate with abusive, and that distinction needs to be made more clear than it was here. 

Overall, I appreciated what Lyn Liao Butler was trying to do with this story. After reading her author bio, the pieces of herself that she intertwined into this book are clear, and I think more stories about feeling out-of-place in one's own identity need to be published and widely read. This being said, this story needed work. The main point of the book - re-accepting one's own identity after years of shoving it away - should have been more clearly center stage than it was. The plot twists added to shock readers to add depth to a situation were certainly dramatic, but often hinged on being completely inappropriate: a family drama can be dramatic without veering so far from reality. Cheesy dialogue doesn't need to be added at every turn. 

I wish I had liked this more, but I have no doubt that there is an audience anxious to get their hands on this book.
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Lyn Liao Butler’s debut novel, The Tiger Mom’s Tale is a fresh and engaging take on one woman’s reconciliation with her past, the complexities of women’s relationships with each other as family and found family, and the everyday experiences of Asian American women in this country today.

The book follows the main character, Lexa, as she finds out that her estranged Taiwanese father has passed away. In his will, he gives her an ultimatum that will eventually send her from New York City to Taichung, setting her up for a confrontation that might finally put unresolved feelings about her father to rest. While the plot hinges on the actions of her father, it is Lexa’s relationships with the women in her life – her mother, her half-sisters, her stepmother, and her friends – that make this book so engaging. Butler does an amazing job of showing us the warp and weft of emotions and reactions that create the bindings between women. From her bemused enjoyment of her friend’s quirks to the fraught connections she has with her half-sisters (and the tension they have with each other) to the reluctant acceptance she shows for her mother’s choices, Lexa navigates a world that is full of bold women with strong personalities.

The Tiger Mom’s Tale is a timely and skillfully penned meditation on the nature of families and the lengths that women will go to protect them and I highly recommend it.
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Read if you: Want a sensitively-drawn "new adult" title about a young woman coming to terms with her estranged Taiwanese family after her father dies. 

Librarians/booksellers: Although this covers serious topics like family estrangement and cultural identity, it's a great pick for readers who want a light read with depth. The food descriptions are scrumptious! 

Many thanks to Berkley Publishing Group and NetGalley for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This is the perfect book for you if you like sister stories, complicated family dynamics in modern blended families, dark family secrets, and lush descriptions of culture and food. In the first two chapters, Lexa’s mom leaves her stepdad for another woman, and then her Taiwanese bio dad dies, leaving behind many unanswered questions about the Thing No One Talks About that led to Lexa not seeing her Taiwanese dad and half sister for many years. I loved the descriptions of Taiwanese culture and food (I want to eat EVERYTHING in this book) and liked how many different personalities and lifestyles were represented amongst the big cast of characters in the book. I loved seeing the sisters all come together at the end!
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This is a story of a spunky, much-loved heroine who has let her past pain drive her present.  A hip trainer in NYC, Lexie is beautiful, smart, and a popular trainer devoted to her clients.  Lexie's American family is going through major transitions.  Her mother announces she has left her husband for another woman..  While adjusting, Lexie learns that her real Taiwanese father who she hasn't seen in 20 plus years has died tragically, that she plays a major role in his will, and that her 1/2 sister from Taiwan is coming to NYC to discuss the secretive will.  Meanwhile, her American sister, Mattie, is acting like a brat and won't talk to her mother or her new partner.  In the midst of this, Lexie has found a man she adores but who wants children, which she doesn't see in her future plans.

As the story progresses, we learn why Lexie rejected her Taiwanese heritage at age 14 and the hurt and betrayal that deeply scarred her,  We also learn how she used her gift of Kung Fu for healing.  Finally, after spending time with her Taiwanese sister, Lexie decides she must go to Taiwain to make things right.  Her braveness, and the mistakes and courage of others, lead her to adjust her priorities and learn about herself and her heritage.

This is a quick, enjoyable read that was hard to put down.  I highly recommend it and would give it 4..5 stars.
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This book made me laugh and it made me cry. Heartwarming and intriguing, I really enjoyed Lexa’s journey of acceptance and understanding. You’ll enjoy this book if you like stories about family ties, the tug of being caught between two cultures, and mouth-watering depictions of food. I only wanted to put this book down to rush out to a Taiwanese restaurant but Lexa’s story had me so hooked that of course, that never happened. 
Lyn Liao Butler’s writing was effortlessly beautiful, and I can’t wait to read what she writes next.
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Touching, heartfelt, and humorous all at once. I loved the journey of both self-discovery and family love. It was equal parts intriguing and relateable. This author is one of my new favorites and I can't wait to see what she writes next!
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This beautiful, richly written book is such a joy to read. Right from its wonderfully engaging first sentence we are deftly led through a complex, thoughtful story with humour, authentic characters, and evocative descriptions, to the fulfilling end. Past interweaves with present in a way which captures the heart and adds deep layers to the story's poignancy. The last scene made me catch my breath. And then of course there's the food! Highly recommended.
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This book was soooo good. I loved the complexity with which Lyn Liao Butler draws the world where Lexa lives. All the characters are very intriguing. I admire how artfully the backstory and present timelines are woven together. 

I also really appreciate the difficult questions that Lexa reflects on and how they haunt her. This novel is very accurate in how it depicts reality, along with our fractured past and our current choices. 

The story constantly propelled me forward as I tried to figure out secrets from the past and tagged along on Lexa’s journey. As an added bonus, I’m grateful for all the elements of culture and identity found within this book.

A must-read, moving journey of growth and character, imbued with warmth and authenticity.
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I love stories about complicated families, and this book did NOT disappoint. There were so many secrets and misunderstandings, and although I hated a couple of the characters, I appreciated how we were given their points of view so we could understand where they were coming from. I tore through this book, because I needed to know Lexa was going to be okay. As a bonus, the descriptions of Taiwan were amazing and made me miss traveling. And the food! Prepare to be hungry while you feel all the emotions.
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THE TIGER MOM'S TALE is compelling storytelling at its finest.

It isn't often that I read a book in a single sitting and yet that's exactly what I just did.

This novel is beautiful - rich settings, complicated families, and so much food. Seriously, I thought *my* family was tricky but nothing holds a candle to Lexa's American or Taiwanese family, much less how she is caught in the middle of two worlds. 

Each and every character is artfully layered. While some characters purposefully come off as selfish and unlikable initially are redeemed, there's one character in particular I'm just gonna sit here and dislike. Oh, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how much I love Lexa's rescue rottie because he's the best!

The story unfolds across multiple timelines and time zones, and uses language and location brilliantly. I'm gonna be thinking about this book for a while!
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