Publish Date: October 30, 2018
“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” Mahatma Gandhi
When Stanley Huang is diagnosed with terminal cancer, his family is thrown into turmoil. While his children are concerned for their father, they can’t help but wonder what his death will mean for their own futures. Stanley has long alluded that he’s worth a fortune. But neither his children nor his wife know exactly how much he has—or who will get it.
For his son Fred, a few million would soothe the pain caused by years of professional disappointment. Stanley’s daughter, Kate, is a mother of two and a middle manager with one of Silicon Valley’s most prestigious tech companies. But when one of the balls she’s juggling unexpectedly drops, she starts to wonder if she really needs to be everything to everyone. Stanley’s second wife, Mary Zhu, twenty-eight years his junior, has devoted herself to making her husband comfortable in every way but caring for a dying old man is far more difficult than she expected. And Linda Liang, Stanley’s first wife, knows her ex better than anyone.
As Stanley’s death approaches, the Huangs are faced with unexpected challenges that upend them and eventually lead them to discover what they most value beyond the ambition and desires of Silicon Valley life.
I enjoyed every minute of this book.
This story touches on the Chinese family dynamics and culture, sibling rivalry, frugality, friendships, morality, biracial relationships, myths, superstitions… and pokes humor at every angle. Some readers might think that this is a satiristic view of a Bay Area Asian family, but I think that it’s a pretty accurate portrayal. It’s like an expose on what happens behind the scenes in a real upper middle class Chinese American family.
I related to this book on so many levels. I grew up in the Bay Area. I’m a second generation Chinese American. I was raised in a family just like this one, minus the divorce. My father passed away of cancer after a brief illness. I don’t know the author, but if I did, I’d think that this story was loosely based on me.
One Goodreads review hints that the author paints a stereotype that Asians are obsessed with money and status. But isn’t success, finances and status important in every culture?
I loved the biting humor that the author injects into many scenes, and it made me laugh out loud many times. I loved the Bay Area references, and could picture many places that were mentioned in the book.
All of the characters had endearing qualities and flaws, and I liked the multiple perspectives shared by Fred, Kate, Linda, and Mary. At first each of these characters is not concerned with money, but as the book progresses and Stanley’s health declines, the money question comes bubbling to the surface as each wonders about their inheritance. Everyone wants to know how much they will get at the same time pretending that they don’t care about it. Their curiosity and guilt about Stanley’s net worth makes it mixed for each of them as they come to grips with his dying and daydream about what they’d do with the money.
I loved the character dynamics which reminded me of my own family and my mom’s friends. I realized through this book and others that the family dynamics that I think are unique to my family and me are similar among other families within the same culture.
Books like The Nest and Crazy Rich Asians have been mentioned as similar to this book. This book is a more realistic version of the amped up glitz, glamour, and money of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, but readers will enjoy it just the same.
Family Trust is a double entendre in this book. Do these family members trust each other? How much is really in the family trust? I think it’s brilliantly intentional.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Note: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss.