Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua - a book review

I finished reading Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother over the weekend. And it made so many things crystal clear. For instance, why my parents were so strict with me when I was growing up; why my mother goaded me to bring home the gold (i.e. come first in class) till I was 12 and couldn't understand why I couldn't or wouldn't; why my parents had such strong views on everything that I did. Why disciplining the hard way seemed just right (to them, not me!).

While, unlike Amy Chua, my parents never pushed me to excel at Piano, Violin or any musical instrument for that matter, they had their own parenting methods. And I’m sure, if you’re Asian (the Asian style of parenting is not just for the Chinese!) and over 30, you may have experienced one or the other form of the intense, firebrand parenting that Chua writes about.

This book, that received a bucket load of criticism from readers across the world and stirred up the controversial topic of the right and wrong ways of parenting, made me consciously aware of the thought process behind Asian parenting. It’s so very different from the Western concept of caring for kids.
It made me realize that what I viewed as “uber strict parenting”, was just how things were done in countries across Asia. This was the norm and maybe still is to a certain extent, and at the heart of this rigorous parenting, lays the good of the child. That’s what every parent believes as he pushes his child to excel, doles out discipline, comes on a bit too strong for the child’s liking.

Part parody, part memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is the story of a Chinese mom in the USA, who wants the best for her two daughters. She puts them through intense violin and piano coaching, making sure they excel. A law professor herself, she juggles her roles as a professional, wife, dog owner and intense Asian mom with pride, focusing intently on her daughters’ musical goals, giving them hardly any time to have fun or so it seems to the reader.

What I enjoyed about the book was her description of Asian parenting and how it’s light-years away from the Western way. I liked her sense of humor and how she’s so brutally honest with her prose.

What started boring me a bit was the number of pages (i.e. almost the entire book) she dedicates to her daughters’ music practice schedule. Personally, as a non-musician, there’s only so much you can read about violin and piano practice. I would have liked to read more on their family life or what the daughters did when they weren’t practicing their music. But then, I also realize that probably that’s what their life was about. Music practice, music practice and more music practice with Chua making sure that they give their best shot every single day.

All in all, a thought provoking read and a book that most Asians over 30 can relate to.

#bookreview #book #nonfiction #memoir #parenting #asianparenting

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