But just because you love something, I added to myself, doesn’t mean you’ll ever be great. Not if you don’t work. Most people stink at the things they love.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

By Amy Chua
256 Pages


All decent parents want to do what’s best for their children. What Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother reveals is that the Chinese just have a totally different idea of how to do that. Western parents try to respect their children’s individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions and providing a nurturing environment. The Chinese believe that the best way to protect your children is by preparing them for the future and arming them with skills, strong work habits, and inner confidence. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother chronicles Chua’s iron-willed decision to raise her daughters, Sophia and Lulu, her way-the Chinese way-and the remarkable results her choice inspires.

My book club picked up this title, which I probably never would have grabbed otherwise. Parenting guides? Pass. But I’m glad we selected it, and I’m glad I read it because it ended up being a fascinating look at a way of like both familiar to myself and drastically, profoundly different.

Author Amy Chua, who is the daughter of immigrants, writes about her experiences raising her two half-Chinese daughters. Her original intention was to document all of the ways that traditional Chinese parenting excels in comparison to the more lax Western model. However, the process itself leads her to some mixed conclusions.

The book is intense, and shocking, and sometimes unbelievable as Chua navigates her girls towards musical excellence while herself working as a Law Professor at Yale. She fights and shouts and pushes her daughters, demanding excellence at all times even if it means 6 hours of practice a day or rejected birthday cards. The harshness, she explains, is not meant to punish. Rather it is to show the girls what they are capable of. As a mother she is harsh because she is disappointed; they are not living up to the real greatness that they have inside. This parenting method worked in some ways, but not in others, and the latter portions of the book are fascinating in their self-reflection.

Should You Read This?

I am neither a parent nor a child who was raised with such exacting standards. However, this book still spoke to me from a sociological and educational standpoint. How do you raise the perfect child? How to you prepare a human to live up to their full potential? Chua has her hypothesis, and while I’m sure many have read this book and finished it totally appalled, I mostly see where she is coming from. There were definitely moments that went over the top, but considering how well her kids have turned out so far some of her ideas had to right, at least for her family. Plus there are some cute dogs. Come for the obsessiveness over piano perfection, stay for the dogs.

Anyway, it was just a very interesting, thought-provoking read overall, and one I would recommend to anyone looking for some incredibly accessible non-fiction.
Summary from Goodreads