Oh I am here to tell you I just read the most WONDERFUL story.
The Surprising Power Of A Good Dumpling was absolutely incredible. I’m so full of emotions right now! You know a book is special when you (a) can’t put it down, and (b) cannot see a single flaw in it, and (c) just want to hug it to your chest and give all the love to the characters. It’s such a sweet but also heart-wrenching story that talks about the darkness of mental illness with such nuance and respect. I bawl softly. with love.
As always I have such a deep respect for #ownvoices stories
You can tell how much love and heart went into this! Anna is Chinese and has grown up in Australia to immigrant parents. She struggles with diaspora at times, feeling she’s not a “good” Chinese daughter since she speaks very basic Cantonese and doesn’t fit in with the other Chinese kids at school. Anna just wants to cook and she’s upset that her parents AND school dismiss her passion.
(Also side note: freaking LOVED how the book talked about how there was nothing wrong about aspiring to work, not go to uni. You aren’t less for not “aiming to your full potential”. I mean, who’s saying what “full potential” has to be anyway?!?)
discussion on mental health
As someone who struggles with depression, I get super emotional reading books where the rep is good. And this? This is GOOD. Anna’s mother has undiagnosed mental illness (possibly bipolar) — she can’t get out of bed, she goes into rages, she sometimes has psychotic episodes. She was hard to love, she could be unfair and cruel to her kids. Anna got the burnt of so much blame. And her dad just ignored what was going on. I think there was a lot of cultural perspective to be had here too, with how some Chinese families approach mental illness (ie: ignoring it).
We also have it contrasted with Rory’s (Anna’s boi) depression. UGH I LOVE RORY. He is slowly rebuilding himself after being in an excruciatingly dark place; and his sweetness but honesty that he’ll never be “normal” again, but he can be okay — I adore for those breadcrumbs of hope.
The fight is worth it. You are worth it.
can we talk about Anna??? I would fite for Anna
She is the absolute Softest™ and broke my heart with her dedication and desperation to be everything she “should” be. Keeping her siblings going. Filling in her mum’s shoes. Helping out at her dad’s restaurant (she wants to do this though!!! her passion). Lily is 13 and Michael is 5 and I adored them too.😭💛Lily is a fire and Anna is sweet and Michael is an angel and WILL PROTEC THEM.
Anna also carries a lot of invisible emotional trauma through the book. Just having to deal with it all, but silently…it’s a huge thing to bear. She gets snipey a few times though and omg I love her. Her arc? 100% perfection. She grew into herself so so much and I love that moment when she realises the stigma of pretending to be okay is harmful. It’s OKAY to NOT be okay.
please buckle up for the cutest romance
Rory + Anna = the ship I NEED. Anna meets Rory at her dad’s restaurant (he’s a delivery boy) and he is the Softest just like her. I loved how their relationship grew. It was just so so wholesome and tentative (and not angsty!!!).
and hi, i just couldn’t put it down
At all. I mean, I planned to do other things this afternoon, and I looked up and I’d just read 3/4 of a book and the afternoon was gone.😂SIGNS of an excellent novel. It was easy to read, addictive, and really well paced. I loved all the scenes: at the restaurant, at home with the siblings, anything with Rory… 🤗
look, this is just the kind of contemporary to put on your tbr immediately
I have read the most wonderful GEM and I want the whole world to know!! It made me feel warm and it filled my heart. The sibling strife was relatable (oops haha) and their love for each other was incredible too. The arcs! The loving discussion of harsher darknesses. The pain. The aching. Anna’s soft strength. All so so excellent.
thank you Allen & Unwin for the review-copy! The Surprising Power Of A Good Dumpling by Wai Chim came out in August 2019
Anna Chiu has her hands pretty full looking after her brother and sister and helping out at her dad’s restaurant, all while her mum stays in bed. Dad’s new delivery boy, Rory, is a welcome distraction and even though she knows that things aren’t right at home, she’s starting to feel like she could just be a normal teen.
But when Mum finally gets out of bed, things go from bad to worse. And as Mum’s condition worsens, Anna and her family question everything they understand about themselves and each other.
A nourishing tale about the crevices of culture, mental wellness and family, and the surprising power of a good dumpling.
| what do you think? |
what food always makes YOU feel better? 🤗 is this one on your TBR? tell me your thoughts if you’ve read it!