With all the hype centered around Amy Chua’s new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (Penguin, 2011), I jumped at the chance to hear her live last week.
The Chicago Tribune sponsored the event, featuring a live interview moderated by Trib literary critic Elizabeth Taylor (and author of American Pharaoh: Richard J. Daley: His Battle for Chicago and the Nation).
Amy Chua explained that she intended to write her memoir along the lines of David Sedaris.
She truly believed in the way her parents raised her (strict but nurturing), yet she found out the hard way that this style didn’t work for everyone.
She began writing her book the night her daughter blew up at her in public.
During questions, one woman thanked Chua for writing about this type of traditional Chinese parenting. Now she felt her friends would understand her better.
Another woman asked Chua how she approached her oldest daughter’s college application process (Chua only skimmed Sophia’s essays and let her apply to the colleges of her choice; she’s been accepted, but that choice is still under wraps).
After the interview and questions concluded, we adjourned downstairs to a cocktail reception and book signing. The signing line snaked around rows of chairs where the overflow audience had just finished watching the interview on a large screen.
I met some friends there, including Chandrika, who guest blogged a review of Chua’s book a couple weeks ago. At the front of the line, Chandrika presented Chua with a card while I quickly revealed I’d been married to a man from mainland China. Chua’s eyes lit up and she laughed, then thanked Chandrika for the card and promised she’d open it after the event.
Before leaving, Chandrika and I spoke with moderator Elizabeth Taylor about the speaker and the event in general. Taylor wondered if Chua would have received so much attention–and criticism–had she been a man, a Tiger Father.
We all stood there for a moment and then nodded. Probably not.
Tiger mom was a great book, not sure why there’s so much criticism. I think Amy really shows her love for her girls like no other mothers could with commitment and devotion. Her invaluable energy sitting along side with her girls to observe their piano practice, her relentless energy spent arguing without giving up. Thumbs up to her. Face it, I couldn’t do it. After all the criticisms, look at her girls now, they are confident, independent, of course smart, and talented. What parents wouldn’t want that! The difference with Amy is she worked for it, all those endless hours of drilling her daughters.
In paradox, I think its ironic parents in New York City are fighting to secure their children into private school at whatever costs. I think these parents also want the same thing Amy wants for her kids except they are not willing to do it themselves instead they pay other people to do it. Its a real shame these are the same parents who criticize Amy’s book.
Amy’s book taught me a lot, I’m trying to be more diligent with my son, but only baby steps.
Susan Blumberg-Kason says
Thanks so much, Jean!! I also love Amy Chua and was so impressed with the devotion toward her kids that you write about. I couldn’t be that patient! Plus, she was teaching full time and had her sister’s illness. She really has a ton of energy and was a very likable woman in person.