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Tiger Babies Strike Back: How I Was Raised by a Tiger Mom but Could Not Be Turned to the Dark Side Paperback – April 30, 2013

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Tiger Babies Strike Back: How I Was Raised by a Tiger Mom but Could Not Be Turned to the Dark Side + Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother + Top of the Class: How Asian Parents Raise High Achievers--and How You Can Too
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (April 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006222929X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062229298
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,186,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Novelist Keltner (The Dim Sum of All Things, 2004) jumps on the Tiger Mother bandwagon with what is at its best a lighthearted look at growing up Chinese American. Packed with lots of saucy attitude, Keltner’s memoir reveals the pressure cooker that is life as a “tiger baby” and refutes much of the dogma related in Amy Chua’s controversial best-seller, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (2011). The book fumbles into incoherence at times, however, as it vascillates from cultural commentary to mothering memoir, and some of the content is repetitive. Keltner’s habit of dropping casual asides about her family can also be disconcerting as there seems to be little groundwork provided in some cases to support her opinions. Readers thus are buffeted from some truly amusing anecdotes about organizing play dates to questionable assertions about family dynamics, which makes for an uneven reading experience. However, it cannot be discounted that Kelner does challenge what was sold as prevailing orthodoxy among Chinese American families only two short years ago, and, as an attempt at literary balance, Tiger Babies is well worth a look. --Colleen Mondor


“The author writes with compassion, humor, love and anger about her mother’s combination of tough love and high expectations…A quirky reflection on the modern immigrant experience and hyphenated ethnicity in America.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“An inspiring take on mothering -- and daughtering. The book is smart, creative, and thought-provoking.” (Linda Small, author of Wimpy Parents: How Not to Raise a Brat)

“A sort of Asian American Sex in the City...like meeting someone who voices thoughts or experiences that you presumed were wholly yours...cynically humorous and genuinely touching...Keltner’s wry sens of humor leaps off every page.” (generationrice)

“Full of feisty humor. . . . Smart and sassy.” (USA Today)

It’s awesome to find such deep truth that makes you laugh this hard. (Beth Lisick, author of Everybody Into the Pool)

More About the Author

In the 4th grade, Kim Wong Keltner won a cutthroat spelling bee which encouraged her aspirations as a writer. Over the years, she honed her ear for dialogue while listening to elderly Chinese ladies dish dirt over endless games of mahjong. Kim met her husband, a native Californian of Norwegian-German descent, at a Chaucer seminar when she strode up to him, stretched out her hand and said, "Come with me if you want to live."

Customer Reviews

The writing style of this book is not for me.
Love and Forgive
Ever since the Tiger Mom book came out, I was hoping that someone would respond for everyone else who didn't really care for the way Tiger parents raise their kids.
I couldn't help feeling at times that Keltner was just taking advantage of Chua's popular title to sell a book that was only partially connected.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Dunyazad VINE VOICE on May 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
I received this book for free in exchange for a review, which meant that I felt obligated to finish it. I might otherwise have set it aside after a few pages, because I could tell immediately that the writing style was not for me. It's painfully colloquial at times ("So keep moving cuz ya don't wanna get sucked into a dark, dead zone"), only loosely structured, and has poor argumentation (the fact that an aunt committed suicide is "proof right there that something sucks in Chinese thinking", because non-Chinese people never kill themselves, right?). There were times when I felt like I was reading an angry blog post rather than a published book.

I do feel sorry for the author's unhappy childhood, which she presents as an example of the costs of the "tiger parenting" promoted by Amy Chua in her controversial Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Keltner's mother had high expectations and wasn't very affectionate. Keltner also participated in various extracurricular activities, like piano lessons and Chinese school.

I couldn't help feeling that this was a much lesser version of tiger parenting, though. One of the most striking things about Chua's parenting style was the results that it accomplished: she pushed her children to the point of performing at Carnegie Hall as teenagers, and she did this in part by attending all of their music lessons along with them, taking notes and then guiding their intensive home practice sessions as well. I suspect that this method of developing prodigies is a large part of the reason why people were so interested in her book: both the methods and the results are extremely dramatic.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Cathy Liu on April 30, 2013
Format: Paperback
Most of the couple of million Chinese Americans around the country will find some deep truths and understanding about themselves and their parents by reading Kim Wong Keltner's book. Tiger Babies Strike Back may be defiantly dismissed by Tiger moms and their ilk, but they should take note. It's constructive criticism that's worth consideration. The old Chinese way of discounting the value of emotions wreaks havoc on their children's ability to be fully actualized human beings. So, while their children may be highly regarded for their external accomplishments, internally, they are a piece of work (Kim shows us exhibit A & B). Most Chinese parents want their children to be overachievers not just to brag to their friends, but perhaps thinking--mistakenly--that their children's successes will shield from the continued injustices inevitable with racism in America. Alas it's the eternal parental tale of all the best intentions yielding unintended results with the added element of the hyphenated American experience thrown in. Kim's personal story of what she chose to embrace and reject from her Chinese American mother as she became one herself inspired me to examine my own Chinese American way of mothering.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Dutton on May 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While the focus of Wong Keltner's new book may be the Chinese-American experience as spawn of a Tiger Mom, many of her experiences are universal. She examines complex family histories, cultural touchstones, bitter memories of childhood slights, and struggles to forge new traditions -- all of which are specific to her experience growing up as a Chinese-American and yet are relatable and accessable (and often close-to-the-bone) for just about every reader.
It is refreshing to read an honest and authentic voice that is unafraid to shine a light on the places culture and convention often ignore. Her conversational tone and ease with insightful anecdotes makes for a delightful and entertaining read.
While her struggle with leaving her hometown of San Francisco struck a very personal cord with me, I was especially taken with her "battle hymn" of those who opt for experience over quantified results, unconditionally expressed love over stoicism, and cloud-watching over needlessly packed schedules.
In all, this is a clever response to the Tiger Mom movement in both structure and content. The ultimate way for a child pushed to conform and produce the results someone else desires is to tell her own, very personal, story. I must say, though, that while Wong Keltner may still be stinging from her experiences as a Tiger Baby, her Tiger Mom must have done something right to help put such an interesting, compassionate, and creative soul out into the world.
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Format: Paperback
I am a big fan of Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, a memoir of a mother with an unflinching look at her extreme parenting based on the "Chinese" way of raising super-kids. Though I don't agree with most of Amy's draconian ways of raising her two girls, I still found her book secretly admirable in parts, though flawed.

Tiger Babies Strike back is Kim Wong's answer to Battle Hymn. It's her own personal look at Chinese parenting and the toll it takes as well as her personal decision not to follow in the Chinese Tiger Mother footsteps. Her book is a humorous foray into Chinese-American culture as she shares her stories of growing up in San Francisco's Chinatown Her message: "Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be robots."

Kim has a rambling sort of way of writing. She jumps between history and culture lessons about the Chinese to first hand experiences from her childhood up to her parenting her own daughter. She shares all sorts of stories illustrating the damage done from such a harsh version of Chinese parenting and delves off into rabbit trails about other Chinese cultural bits and pieces with a playful and humorous style that is sometimes tinged with a cutting edge of bitterness.

Kim is sassy, astute and also unapologetic for the message behind her book. She says,

"Tiger Parents, you may be asking yourselves, "What is the point of this book?"

"Love your babies, and show your babies that you love them. Withholding your acceptance and praise while pushing your children into achievement might yield certain results, but that kind of pressure stifles other aspects of growing up.
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