THE SURPRISING POWER OF A GOOD DUMPLING, by Wai Chim, Scholastic Press, Nov. 10, 2020, Hardcover, $18.99 (young adult, ages 14 and up)
The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling, by Wai Chim, is a fantastic look at the complexities of family and culture.
Anna Chiu has her hands full. When she’s not looking after her brother and sister or helping out at her father’s restaurant, she’s taking care of her mother, whose debilitating mental illness keeps her in bed most days. Her father’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 be a normal teen.
But when her mother finally gets out of bed, things go from bad to worse. And as her mother’s condition worsens, Anna and her family question everything they understand about themselves and each other.
The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling is a heart-wrenching, true-to-life exploration through the often neglected crevices of culture, mental illness, and family. Its strong themes are balanced by a beautiful romance making it a feel-good, yet important read. —Synopsis provided by Scholastic Press
The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling is an excellent choice for older (ages 14 and up) fans of Kelly Yang’s Front Desk. Similar themes of family responsibility, work ethic and what immigrant families not only sacrifice but are willing to work for as they reach for the American Dream.
Taking things a step beyond, The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling looks at these themes through the lens of a teen whose mother has a mental illness.
Author Wai Chim does an excellent job of addressing hard subjects with respect and care. She doesn’t shy away from the pain but tempers it with light. This nuanced balance leaves readers with hope where despair could have reigned.
Anna is a character you immediately know and love. You want her to succeed and you keenly feel her losses. Her mother is a force that rolls across the pages like tidal waves. Rory is a bright spot with his own problems. Their storylines converge into the perfect storm of emotion and heart.
The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling came out in the United States in November. With everything that was going on at the time, it might have fallen under your radar. Now is the time to pick it up and see what you were missing.
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