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Month in review

Reviews
All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
Big Dog...Little Dog: A Bedtime Story by P.D. Eastman
The Book Stops Here by Kate Carlisle
By Motor to the Golden Gate by Emily Post
Chapter and Hearse by Lorna Barrett
Cleopatra in Space: The Golden Lion by Mike Maihack
Cotton Tenants: Three Families by James Agee
Crafty Cat and the Crafty Camp Crisis by Charise Mericle Harper
Demon, Volume 3 by Jason Shiga
The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews
The Fog by Kyo Maclear
The Great Good Summer by Liz Garton Scanlon
Lumberjanes, Volume 2: Friendship to the Max by Noelle Stevenson
Max Versus The Cube by Hanne Türk
Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle
Once Upon a Thriller by Carolyn Keene
The Painted Queen by Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess
A Perfect Day by Lane Smith
Practical Artistry: Light & Exposure for Digital Photographers by Harold Davis
Race the Night by Kirsten Hubbard Race to the Bottom of the Sea by Lindsay Eagar
Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali
Say No to Murder by Nancy Pickard
Sentenced to Death by Lorna Barrett
Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan
The Stone Warriors by Michael Northrop
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
Under the Dragon's Tail by Maureen Jennings
The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang
Watch the Sky by Kirsten Hubbard

Miscellaneous
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (October 02)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (October 09)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (October 16)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (October 23)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (October 30)
September 2017 Sources
September 2017 Summary

Previous month

Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Reading Challenges

My Kind of Mystery Reading Challenge 2017 February - January 2017-8



The Wangs vs. the World: 10/27/17

The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang

The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang is set in the recent recession and follows a Chinese American family coming to grips with the reality of having lost everything.

The head of the family is Charles — an entrepreneur who had built a makeup empire and lost it when his most recent line failed and his loans were called in before he could secure more funding. With Barbra, his second wife, he and his son and daughter travel across the country to Upstate New York to his eldest daughter's home, hoping to make good on one last business deal.

This is one of those books where I started in print and just didn't get anywhere. Charles — understandably given his situation — came across as angry, distractingly so.

As I was invested in the book for the promised road trip, I was frustrated to have to wade through a ton of back story for Charles and his family.

But then I found the audiobook version, read by Nancy Wu. She brought the characters to life. Her performance contextualized Charles's anger and pride in ways that my inner voice could not. She was able to give voice and personality to the entire family. She was also able to smoothly go from English to Mandarin and back in ways that I cannot — even with it written out in pinyin.

Perception vs reality of character profiles. Wangs vs the World is the slow and steady downfall of a once successful businessman. In the spectrum of the road trip character, he believes himself to privileged — the businessman tycoon he once was — and able to set the rules as he travels. He further believes in the added protection of his family.

In reality, though, without the protection of his makeup empire and his unlimited funds, he is an old Chinese man with his family, driving across the country in an old car on it's last cylinders. He is trapped in a landscape of his own making, essentially a minotaur in an unsolvable labyrinth.

Knowing then that the labyrinth or cornfield is often tied to the afterlife or the underworld, the ending is by no means a surprise. For Charles Wang, it's in inevitable. All roads for him lead through the cornfield and into the underworld.

Three stars

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Comment #1: Monday, October 30, 2017 at 02:58:04

Harvee

I like your reading of the book. I remember it as trying at times, but I should have listened to the audio! Also, I remember the ending being an okay one for Charles. Am I wrong?



Comment #2: Monday, October 30, 2017 at 17:16:00

Pussreboots

I took "'Daddy discovered America!'" as his last words. His family and the doctor are all gathered around waiting for the inevitable.