The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Charles Wang, a Chinese man, a Taiwanese immigrant who has come to America to build a fortune in the makeup business industry. Then in 2008, after many successful years, he bankrupts and loses it all. He then proceeds to get into a shitty car to drive cross-country to his oldest daughter's Siana's place, a humiliated artist with boyfriend troubles estate in upstate NY. Along the way, some unexpected things happen and Charles continue to foster his bizarre ideas of redemption.
Another one of those buzzy books, that unfortunately felt disappointing to my high expectations that I have created. I think what sealed the deal is when I recognized how similar it was the "The Nest" in many ways. So fans of "The Nest" might be in love with this book, but the problem was that I was never a fan of "The Nest."
I think that my #1 complaint, was that there was no translation of the Chinese language within the story's dialogue in some places, therefore I didn't understand it. I am ok with the author wanting to include authentic phrases in her literature, but you at least have to let the reader know by translating what is going on!
Another thing that fell completely flat for me: this book was tagged as humour and supposed to be funny. Well, guess how many times I laughed out loud? 0 times. And I'm a quite amused person that is open to humour in literature, lots of books make me laugh lots of times. But the fact is, I just didn't find even one instance in this book where I could just lean back and make myself laugh.
All of the characters were unlikable and unlovable, and I didn't really personally feel connected to any of them, which is essential in my opinion, to the art of good storytelling. Siana, Andrew, and Grace all seemed to be unlikeable and unaccustomed to living life homeless or in poor conditions. I held absolutely no sympathy, at time I just wanted to shout "suck it up" while continuing to flip the pages of their self-pitying monologues.
Barbra seems distant and cold in the story, even though the author tries too hard to bring everyone together by the revealing ending. And Charles is very self-entitled, comes from a privileged group in society and thinks that he is the "highest of the high" which is an example of why I absolutely despise egotistic characters.
One thing that did ring a lot of my reading bells, at the beginning was that there were multiple POVs .That was one of the only things that I found absolutely entertaining about this book, it switches from one character miserable with their lives to the next one. At least it was at least a bit easier to see the general scope of their dysfunctional family through many different lenses.
If I just pointed out a lot of negative points, why didn't I rate this even lower? Well, for some specific parts I found it very entertaining. The author does have a knack at writing dialogue, when it's all in English so those interactions especially between the siblings were really only the highlights of the book for me.
**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me an e-arc of this book in exchange for my honest review.**
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