Family Trust by Kathy Wang

This book appealed to me for several reasons.

– it’s set in the San Francisco Bay Area and perhaps more importantly, not just the city itself but also the rest of the Bay Area. Don’t get me wrong, I like the city (well parts of it at least), the husband works there and all, but we live in the East Bay and it’s nice to see other parts of the area talked about.

– it’s a story about East Asian immigrants. They are originally from Taiwan, as are many of those in the Bay Area and I’m always interested in stories about immigration, particularly from Asia.

Also it opens with a whopper of a first sentence.

“Stanley Huang sat, naked but for the thing cotton dressing gown crumpled against the sterile white paper in the hospital room, and listened to the young doctor describe how he would die.”

He’s been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and this is the story of how he and his family deal with it.

He has a son, Fred, Harvard Business School grad, who’s been trying to make it big in the fintech industry but hasn’t quite yet. His daughter Kate is doing well at a well-known Silicon Valley company but is struggling with the balance of home and work. Also something seems to be up with her husband who is trying to get his start-up going.

Then there is their mother, Stanley’s ex-wife, Linda, perhaps a less-than-usual Asian woman of her time, one who continued working for decades, and yes, even divorced her husband. She’s even been thinking of dating again!

“What was one supposed to say, when one’s now-ex-husband of thirty-four years was struck with such a diagnosis?”

Stanley’s current wife Mary is 28 years younger than him. She’s a former waitress and has devoted her new life to caring for Stanley but now with Stanley dying, his family is suspicious of her motives.

For Stanley has often hinted at his riches – in the millions! Who deserves it more, the one who’s been caring for him in recent years? His children? Linda is determined to make sure her kids get their fair share.

Family Trust is a Silicon Valley story. It is also an Asian family story. It is also an American story. It’s a story about the pursuit of success, about money, about family obligation. There probably will be Crazy Rich Asians comparisons but as someone not a fan of that series, let me just say that Family Trust is better. Its characters are complex yet relatable, its observations of Silicon Valley life and family relationships are astute and witty. A great debut!

Honestly, Linda has some of the best lines.

“The woman likely didn’t even think she spoke English, regarding her as just another sexless Asian dotting her periphery – someone who could be ignored at will, like a houseplant.”

 

And here’s another – apparently there are differences according to where you landed up as an immigrant.

“Everyone knew that the best Chinese immigrants of their generation were settled in California, and mostly in the Bay Area. There were some in Los Angeles, but then you ran the risk of ending up with some sleazy import/exporter. And Linda had no intention of being matched with some grocery store operator in, say, Reno.”

 

“She knew exactly how Americans saw women like the Mercedes driver – as indistinguishable from herself. An Asian lady consumed with the creation and consumption of money, who neglected to hug her children. Why did white people like to pick and choose from cultures with such zealous judgment? Of course they just loved Szechuan cuisine served by a young waitress in a cheap cheongsam, but as soon as you proved yourself just as adept at the form of capitalism they had invented? Then you were obsessed. Money crazed. Unworthy of sympathy.”

Advertisements

Library Loot (February 13 to 19)

badge-4

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Wednesday you guys! How is it Wednesday again? That sure was a speedy seven days.

Claire has the link-up this week

Some things I was excited to see at the library this week…

This Black History Month display of books by women writers

This stack of books a random kid aged about 11 or 12 plonked down at the table I was sitting at. He then went to get more books! At another table this brother and sister (looked about 9 to 11) sat with a big stack of comics.

It was enough to make me feel that the kids today are alright. At least these kids were.

What I got from my library this week:

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told – Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman (audiobook)

I’m excited to get my hands on this one! Of course the hold came in when I was finishing up another audiobook (Heavy) and in the middle of another (How to be a Good Creature) – Heavy has quite a bit of words unsuitable for young ears so I only listen to it at night when the kids are asleep. And of course there’s no way to renew The Greatest Love Story because the updated Libby app is very good at letting me know that there are 17 people waiting for it – ie, renewals are not going to happen. And I really want to listen to this instead of reading it. Because it’s Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman!

The kids’ loot:

What did you get from your library this week?

This post contains affiliate links from Book Depository. If you buy via these links it means I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you).

Favourite Couples in Books #toptentuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is: Favorite Couples In Books

 

 

Is it weird that the first couple that came to mind was Gerald and Piggie from the Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie series? I love how they’re such great friends! I know that’s probably not what this topic is asking, especially since we’re two days from Valentine’s Day, but they’re a great couple anyway!

Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe of Anne of Green Gables

I always liked how they started off as competitors.

Michelle and Barack Obama

Well since the topic didn’t specify whether the couples are fictional or not, I’m going with the Obamas. I recently finished listening to Michelle Obama’s Becoming and just really enjoyed how candid she was about her relationship and marriage.

 

 


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

 

 

 

It’s Monday and it’s everyone’s birthday!

Good Monday to you.

 

It’s the seventh day of the Lunar New Year and that means it’s 人日 (ren ri). In Chinese mythology, it was on the seventh day that human beings were created (various animals were created first, starting with chickens!) so today is considered everyone’s birthday. So happy birthday to you and you!

This weekend I must have caught the bug that’s been going around. But luckily not the full-blown version that my kids were hit with – they had fevers, runny nose, lingering cough. For me, it’s just a cough and runny nose. I’m plying myself with green tea, lemongrass tea, avoiding snacks if I can, and staying warm. I know it’s not as cold here in California as plenty of other parts of the country (and world), but it’s been a chillier February than usual.

The rest of the week was fun though. It was quite rainy and we actually had snow on our hills and mountains! I’ve only seen snow on the very top of Mission Peak twice since I’ve lived here so to see so much snow was quite exciting.

The skies cleared up for the school’s first New Year carnival. Previous years, the mandarin immersion programme kids put up performances for the school. But I guess that’s too much work for the teachers and takes away from class time (also the teachers are currently on work-to-rule) so this year there were carnival-style booths and lots of parent volunteers. I helped out with a booth that had kids use chopsticks to pick up marbles and some of the older kids were so competitive. It was a little bit crazier than I expected! But everyone had fun. And there was a lion dance after along with kungfu demonstrations.

 

 

 

Currently…

 

Reading:

 

No Fond Return of Love – Barbara Pym 

Loving this!

Why I Wake Early – Mary Oliver 

I’m still slowly dipping into this one!

Watching:

On Sunday morning we went to see the Lego Movie 2. I love that the kids are excited to see movies in the cinema.

Listening:

How to be a good creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals – Sy Montgomery

Eating:

We had Blaze pizza for lunch. I topped my pizza with kalamata olives, artichokes, roasted red peppers, pepperoni and bacon. Also I like to have gorgonzola and mozzarella.

Drinking:

Lots of green tea to help soothe my ticklish throat

Cooking:

Shepherd’s pie

Noodles of some sort as always!

Browsing:

It’s DWJMarch / March Magics!!

7 true stories to add to your reading list (Beth Fish Reads)

Saving this recipe to try out once I get my hands on cream – soft egg white and cream sandwich bread (Bake for Happy Kids)

These coconut mochi cake muffins sound good! (I Am A Food Blog)

I’m looking forward to reading The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo (The Illustrated Page)

Last week:

I read:

Family Trust – Kathy Wang

Fifth Chinese Daughter – Jade Snow Wong
The Magicians – Lev Grossman
Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl – Issa Rae (technically I began this last year but time ran out on the audiobook loan, so I just finished listening to it!)

I posted:

Book Beginnings/Friday 56 Family Trust

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Library Loot (February 6 to 12)

Upcoming releases I’m on the fence about #toptentuesday

Paris Echo by Sebastian Faulks

 

 

badge
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

 

Book Beginnings/Friday 56 Family Trust

Beginning:

Stanley Huang sat, naked but for the thing cotton dressing gown crumpled against the sterile white paper in the hospital room, and listened to the young doctor describe how he would die.

56:

The words of Aisha echoed; there was something strange in how they looked at her and then each other, as if trying to telepathically discuss a course of action.

 

 

 

Fridays are for Book Beginnings on Rose City Reader, Friday 56 on Freda’s Voice

 

 

 

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

This was a great read. If you like books (and since you’re reading my blog post, I’m presuming you do) and libraries, this is a book for you!

I’d seen some reviews and synopses where it mentioned the Los Angeles public library fire of 1986 and I had thought, oh wow a book just about this library fire? I hadn’t known that this huge fire had occurred – it burnt hundreds of thousands of books and damaged many more – so that already had me intrigued. So I thought it would some kind of investigative reporting about the fire. It wasn’t exactly. And I was thankful it wasn’t.

We are told about the terrifying fire. How it burned for hours, hit 2500 degrees (!), had more than 3 million gallons of water dumped on it

Orleans discusses a variety of related issues like book burning in history. And how, as part of her research, burnt a book herself. Her research into the history of the Los Angeles Public Library is really interesting and thorough.

But for me the loveliest – and saddest – parts of the book was when Orlean talked about visiting the library with her mother. How her mother used to take her to the library as a child and as a teenager. How her mother had thought that being a librarian would have been the job for her. But sadly her mother had been suffering from dementia. I loved how she wrote the book for her mother, and shared her mother’s love for libraries with fellow library lovers and readers of this lovely book.

“In Senegal, the polite expression for saying someone died is to say his or her library has burned. When I first heard the phrase, I didn’t understand it, but over time I came to realise it was perfect. Our minds and souls contain volumes inscribed by our experiences and emotions; each individual’s consciousness is a collection of memories we’ve cataloged and stored inside us, a private library of a life lived. It is something that no one else can entirely share, one that burns down and disappears when we die. But if you can take something from that internal collection and share it–with one person or with the larger world, on the page or in a story recited–it takes on a life of its own.”

Library Loot (February 6 to 12)

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

 

 

Happy Wednesday and Happy New Year!

I didn’t get much from the library this week. The boys were sick last week (they took turns getting sick with fever and coughs), so I didn’t get to do a proper library run with them. But since we were stuck at home on Saturday (besides the sick kids, it was a rainy weekend), I had a really quick stop at the library which was somehow so crowded it was hard to find a parking space!

And here’s the link-up!

Shutter Vol 2: Way of the World – Joe Keatinge, Leila del Luca (illustrations)

I was confused by vol 2 so I’m wondering where vol 2 goes!

Kate Kristopher, once the most famous explorer of an Earth far more fantastic than the one we know, is
forced to return to the adventurous life she left behind when a family secret threatens to destroy everything she spent her life protecting. In Volume 2, Kate crosses the Earth to unlock a family mystery taking her far beyond her own reality.

 

How to be a good creature – Sy Montgomery (audiobook)

National Book Award finalist Sy Montgomery reflects on the personalities and quirks of 13 animals–her friends–who have profoundly affected her in this stunning, poetic, and life-affirming memoir featuring illustrations by Rebecca Green.

Understanding someone who belongs to another species can be transformative. No one knows this better than author, naturalist, and adventurer Sy Montgomery. To research her books, Sy has traveled the world and encountered some of the planet’s rarest and most beautiful animals. From tarantulas to tigers, Sy’s life continually intersects with and is informed by the creatures she meets.

This restorative memoir reflects on the personalities and quirks of thirteen animals–Sy’s friends–and the truths revealed by their grace. It also explores vast themes: the otherness and sameness of people and animals; the various ways we learn to love and become empathetic; how we find our passion; how we create our families; coping with loss and despair; gratitude; forgiveness; and most of all, how to be a good creature in the world.

 

 

 

 

The Magician King – Lev Grossman (The Magicians #2)

I just read the first book finished and while it was still a so-so read for me (I read it ages ago, thought it ok, then just finished watching the TV series and loved it), I’m looking forward to this one which is less Q-centred.

Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall. After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and his old friend Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out on an errand to the wild outer reaches of their kingdom. Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back into the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parent’s house in Chesterton, Massachusetts. And only the black, twisted magic that Julia learned on the streets can save them.

The Magician King is a grand voyage into the dark, glittering heart of magic, an epic quest for the Harry Potter generation. It also introduces a powerful new voice, that of Julia, whose angry genius is thrilling. Once again Grossman proves that he is the cutting edge of literary fantasy

 

 

Front Desk – Kelly Yang

I’ve been looking forward to this one!

Mia Tang has a lot of secrets.

Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests.

Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they’ve been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed.

Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language?

It will take all of Mia’s courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?

The kids’ loot:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did you get from your library this week?

 

This post contains affiliate links from Book Depository.  If you buy via these links it means I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you).