The Wangs vs. The World

…Or is it the Wangs versus the common perceptions of Asians in popular media?

“The people of the world could be divided into two groups: those who used all of their chances, and those who stood still through opportunity after opportunity, waiting for a moment that would never be perfect”

The Wangs vs. The World by Jade Chang follows the story of formerly wealthy businessman, Charles Wang, who went from ridiculous, obnoxious riches to absolutely nothing. Charles Wang drags his second wife, Barbra, and his two children, Andrew and Grace, in an Oldmobile on a road trip across America to meet with Saina, the eldest child, because she owns a house…in the middle-of-nowhere in upstate New York.

The Wangs were picking up their life to settle in the middle of nowhere, while CharlesWang had plans to return to China to seek his family land taken by the Communists. It’s his last shot in getting rich quick.

The Wangs Vs. The World by Jade Chang

The backdrop of the story is during the 2008-2009 Great American Recession. People were out of jobs, and businesses were on the way out. I remembered that time, people were credit happy until they weren’t credit happy anymore; they could not keep up with payments and it all spirals out from there.

“Communists had it all wrong. It wasn’t the rich who were imprisoned by their possessions, it was the poor.”

There were funny moments where I laughed out loud. Then there were moments I was perplexed because I don’t speak any Chinese and I had to decipher what they were talking about. There were many moments when I thought everyone in this family was absolutely awful, shallow, unlikable, incapable of doing everyday things non-rich people do like work hard. They pretty cheated their way to faux success and I hoped this disaster could help redeem themselves, which did happen.

“Love saves you, as long as there’s a you to be saved.”

Then I felt the last 30 percent of the book felt rush and the last chapter was a crash. I really wanted closure for Andrew’s story especially with what he went through. Maybe an epilogue 5 year or 10 years later would have been good.

Verdict:  My feelings for this book is mixed. It started great in the beginning despite me hating a lot of the characters — I guess I enjoy hate-reading. But then when the characters started turning around, it moved too fast, then it ends. Crash. I wanted to know what happened to everyone. How did everyone adjust their new life once they settled? Did they somehow lead humbling lives after everything they lost?

I thought it was refreshing to see a different book centering on Asian families. This was certainly not the Asian family that cared if their kids get good grades. I mean the father cared more if his son gets laid in college rather than passing college — the absolute opposite of the Tiger Mom.