In Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua documents her experiences of raising two daughters in the “Chinese way”. By that, she means exercising strict control over her daughters’ lives and decisions. For instance, she picked both of her children’s instruments and is constantly involved in their activities. Chua lays out the struggles, as well as her justifications for doing so. She parents the Chinese child rearing over the Western way, claiming that she is trying to toughen up her daughters
This book was both fascinating and awkward to read. Chua is very frank about her life and decisions surrounding her two daughters. She claims that she was doing these for the best of the daughters, but, for me, reading her tales of the battles between her youngest and her decisions was a bit like watching a train wreck. I think Chua was trying to convince the reader that her way was justifiable and even better than the Western style of parenting. She claims that she was toughening up her daughters and giving them confidence However, I did not find her argument especially convincing. The primary reason for this statement is that the book is overwhelmingly devoted to her conflicts or defensive behavior or distressed behavior.
I did think that the book did something well: it conveyed how utterly complicated life can be. Our decisions are so nuanced that we cannot possibly convey everything we want to. I have no way of knowing how honest Chuas’ intentions are or her daughters turned out, and, for that reason, I am reluctant to pick a side. I also am not from a Chinese background, so I do not feel I can truly make a judgement call. I did pick up some of the tenderness and love through her experiences, but I felt like other works, such as Amy Tan’s stories, did a better job of conveying the American Chinese parent-daughter relationship.
I’m not sure I would strongly recommend reading this book. I picked it up because a) I am curious about Chinese American culture and lifestyles and b) I felt like I needed to read more non-fiction. I would say to not go out of your way to read it.