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Comment: This book is in good condition. This is a former library book with all the expected stickers and markings. It shows some wear from consistent use. There are signs of shelfwear along the edges. There may be some minor dents, scratches, or creases in the cover (or dust jacket, if it has one). The spine shows signs of being read thoroughly, but the pages are securely in place. All in all, this is a solid book.
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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

3.3 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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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

Review

“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)
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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: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,049,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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After reading the book, I cried and then chose to re-read some of the chapters. It was truly inspirational and very touching. Some of the topics she wrote about , her own parent's parenting style. Their expectations, all so real to me. I felt she was writing about me and my parents. More stories about Tiger Mom and Tiger Dad's should really give a wake up call to these "old school/Chinese Parents" who thinks they have it all good. They are pushing their kids further and further away.
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After reading the articles revisiting Tiger-style parenting due to the recent publication of a 10 yr study on parenting coinciding with the release of Keltner's book, I knew I wanted to read her book. A "tiger cub" myself, there was an itch that needed scratching. And in many ways, her book did satisfy my ache for empathy & "misery loves company" sentiment. But in addition to being a memoir, the book is also at times a preachy rant of "dos" and "don'ts". I think the childhood stories Keltner shares SHOW well what is good and not good behavior for a parent; we don't also need to be TOLD what is good or not good.

I agree with the other reviewers that her writing style is very blog-ish, which I did find amusing and clever in many places. But I would have enjoyed the memoir more if there were less commentary. And frankly at times, I think her commentary is off-base, e.g. when she implies that specific Asian-Americans committed suicide because they were tiger-parented. Depression is a serious mental illness with multifactorial etiology. Without knowing how the actual people mentioned were parented, how can she assume that? Should every parent blame themselves and only themselves, if their child is severely depressed?

Also, I didn't like how she would often refer to her Caucasian husband as "the albino". It seemed to be strange name calling (meant to be funny?). But didn't the kids at her kid's school also think it funny when the Chinese railroad worker died?

I didn't love it, but the book was worth reading, for me at least. I give kudos to Keltner for opening up her wounds, sharing her vulnerable childhood & adult stories with the public; I would never be so bold. And also, I think her mother must be pretty good after all, perhaps not so rigid, to have blessed the book (per the acknowledgements). Without exaggeration, my mother would have disowned me and cried for weeks.
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