What do you get when you have a book filled with family drama, gossiping, scheming, backstabbing and a love story doomed from the beginning? You get a great summer read!
Believe me when I say I heard dramatic soap opera music playing in my head while reading this book. Crazy Rich Asians is a book that has been on my radar for a while. It wasn’t until I found out that the movie would be released soon that I dashed to the bookstore to pick up a copy (because who watches the movie before reading the book?). I cannot believe it took me this long to pick up such an outrageously funny and dramatic book. I live for drama in books. I love characters that are so out there that you question if actual people like that exist in the world. This is what I continuously asked myself while reading this book. It kept me on my toes and I was very stressed out for the main character. Let’s get right into it:
Rachel Chu is a professor of economics and an ABC (American born Chinese). She has been in a relationship with her boyfriend, Nick Young, for two years. During the course of her relationship, she learns very little about his family. Until the day Nick invites Rachel to his friend’s wedding in Singapore. Finally Rachel will meet and learn more about Nick’s family. While she is nervous at the prospect of meeting her boyfriend’s family, she is in for a big surprise and culture shock.
As it turns out, Nicholas Young is one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors. He grew up in a home that looks like a palace, has access to private planes and has relatives that spend over $25,000 on outfits. Rachel was not prepared for any of this and she finds herself being swept into the stunning world of some crazy rich Asians. While Rachel is both dazzled and overwhelmed by the way Nick’s family and friends live, she soon realizes that she has a target on her back. There are many people who do not believe Rachel is good enough for Nick and will do everything in their power to get her out of the way.
I love books that explore different cultures and I must admit that I did not know much about Singapore’s culture until I read Crazy Rich Asians. Of course, the culture that was explored in this book was that of the immensely wealthy Singaporeans. I really enjoyed reading about Rachel experiencing culture shock. There are plenty of hilarious scenes of Rachel exploring their world and trying to wrap her mind around the price tags. It felt like I was learning along with Rachel, and getting shocked as well. I felt overwhelmed just reading the descriptions of the elaborate mansions and extravagant wedding festivities.
There were many themes that revolved around family, relationships, class and prejudice. However, what stood out for me the most were the differences between the old generation and the new generation within the families. The older generation was portrayed as holding on to their culture values and their beliefs. They did live extravagant lives but they believed in privacy. Some were set in their ways and had expectations that needed to be fulfilled by their children. The younger generation were portrayed as showing off their wealth and spending their money on the latest designer brands. They were on a quest to own more, be caught on camera looking like the perfect family or just sabotaging those around them to get what they wanted. There were also many “mean girl” moments in this book that had me stressed out. Poor Rachel Chu never had a chance and was not well prepared to deal with the vicious mean girls that labeled her as a gold-digger from the moment they heard of her. She was also not prepared to deal with the older ladies who schemed together to sabotage her relationship with Nick.
Crazy Rich Asians was a fun summer read. While you may find that the descriptions of characters and the environment can be long at times, I urge you to read through it because it does help you understand the world Kevin Kwan created. Enjoy and do catch the movie as it comes out later this month.