Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

May 6, 2011

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is a memoir by Amy Chua, professor at Yale Law School. The memoir concentrates on her family life, especially on raising her two daughters. As a second generation Chinese, Chua is determined to raise her daughters the Chinese way. Some of her parenting methods might be perceived as too strict by some readers. Chua is definitely a firm parent and she often tells her girls that her goal as a parent is to prepare them for the future – not to make them like her. Even though, her daughters are not allowed to choose their own extracurricular activities or have a play date, it is highly visible that Chua loves her daughters very much and they are the centre of her life.

I found the memoir very interesting and moving. As an immigrant myself, I can understand Chua’s drive for her girls to excel. My mother always told me that I had to be ten times better than my new country’s inhabitants to succeed in this country. One of my favorite quotes from the book is from the chapter in which Chua teaches her girls to appreciate different cultures and never laugh at other people’s accents. She says, “Do you know what a foreign accent is? It’s a sign of bravery. Those are people who crossed an ocean to come to this country. My parents had accents – I had an accent. I was thrown into nursery school not speaking a word of English. Even in third grade, classmates made fun of me. Do you know where those people are now? They’re janitors, that’s where”. As much as I enjoyed reading about Chua’s raising her daughters, my favorite part of the book was a story of Karin, Chua’s sister, and her brave battle against cancer.

 Chua’s memoir is fascinating and thought provoking. However, it may be viewed as controversial by many readers. Chua often uses the term “Western parent” and points out deficiencies of the “Western style” parenting. I first heard about this book in a restaurant where a group of soccer moms displayed an outrage over Amy Chua’s parenting style. When reading the book, it is important to keep in mind that Chua’s book is a memoir and not a parenting guide. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother would be a great pick for a book club.

Reviewed by Library Staff