This review originally appeared on Happy Indulgence Books Check it out forreviews Not only does it cover the mental illness and depression well, but it s also balanced with equal parts warmth, of hope and of love and acceptance I don t know how Wai Chim does it, but The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling captures so much of my life growing up From having strict, traditional Chinese Australian parents, to the mental illness stigma and a sister having to take care of her siblings, there This review originally appeared on Happy Indulgence Books Check it out forreviews Not only does it cover the mental illness and depression well, but it s also balanced with equal parts warmth, of hope and of love and acceptance I don t know how Wai Chim does it, but The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling captures so much of my life growing up From having strict, traditional Chinese Australian parents, to the mental illness stigma and a sister having to take care of her siblings, there s so much here that captures life for me and my siblings.Often mental illness in Asian families is something to be shunned, something that is swept under the rug and wasn t talked about Instead of talking about it openly, and getting those affected the help that was needed, it was something to be ashamed of Something that highlighted the weaknesses in one s family Something that was blamed on others And all of that hurt, all of that pain is something that is captured in Good Dumpling Not only is it covered empathetically, but it s also done without blame.I loved the moments in Anna Chiu s life where she finds love within her own family, despite the hardships they go through She finds love out of being the good daughter , of helping her father look after his restaurant, of helping her mother look after her younger sister and brother And she does all of this without question, because of her values of filial piety.I also loved the part where Anna Chiu helps out at her dad s restaurant which adds a fun element to a book that covers a lot of ground The parts with Ah Jeff and the rest of the staff were so much fun and showed how grounding a family business could be I also loved all the descriptions of food, dumplings and noodle soup in the novel and how it talks about westernised Asian food as well as real Asian food which is something that is so accepted by Asians living in the West, but no one really talks about it Although Anna has a lot on her plate helping out with her family and siblings, it s amazing just how narrow minded the education system can be And that s highlighted by her guidance counsellor pushing her towards aworthwhile career that looks good on the books, and how her grades are everything Anna doesn t want to share her life story with her guidance counsellor for fear of backlash and of being judged, but I like how she speaks her mind about it.It s often hard to balance stories about cultural attitudes and racism, but Good Dumpling covers the Chinese Australian experience so well I loved the discussions about microaggressions that Asians can face in Australia, like how everyone just pretends we re any sort of Asian and thinks we speak for the rest of the race Something that often isn t talked about is the intrinsic racism that many of us have against other cultures too It s not perfect, but Good Dumpling covers it with such grace and honesty.Good Dumpling also covers an Asian dating someone who your parents didn t expect you to someone who is anglo saxon and not another Chinese I loved how empathetic Rory was, and how his own experience with depression helped to open up Anna s empathy and understanding when it came to her mother s mental illness How it s an ongoing condition, and just because you seem okay at the time, doesn t mean that you re completely cured Because in the end, that s what this book is about learning how to understand, manage and help with mental illness so you can function again.I m a complete blubbering mess after reading The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling, which moved me to tears upon finishing it From the mental illness in the family, to caring for your siblings, and the Chinese Australian experience growing up I ve never had a book that reflected my own experience so succinctly before It s a book that is heartwarming, meaningful and thoroughly important, and I can t wait for everyone to read it.Trigger warnings mental illness, racism, bullying, animal cruelty I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review. Anna Chiu has her hands pretty full looking after her brother and sister and helping out at her dad s restaurant, all while her mum stays in bed Dad s new delivery boy, Rory, is a welcome distraction and even though she knows that things aren t right at home, she s starting to feel like she could just be a normal teenBut when Mum finally gets out of bed, things go from bad to worse And as Mum s condition worsens, Anna and her family question everything they understand about themselves and each otherA nourishing tale about the crevices of culture, mental wellness and family, and the surprising power of a good dumpling Read my full review on my blog, The Quiet Pond I don t remember the last time a book made me feel so vulnerable and raw This book made me confront a lot of personal feelings about a lot of things, some of which were uncomfortable, but I think that s why this book is so important and necessary The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling is one of the most candid and honest portrayals of how mental illness intersects with Asian identity, culture, and values Not only was this an effortless 5 read, b Read my full review on my blog, The Quiet Pond I don t remember the last time a book made me feel so vulnerable and raw This book made me confront a lot of personal feelings about a lot of things, some of which were uncomfortable, but I think that s why this book is so important and necessary The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling is one of the most candid and honest portrayals of how mental illness intersects with Asian identity, culture, and values Not only was this an effortless 5 read, but this is a new all time favourite book.Trigger content warnings view spoiler portrayal of depression, familial emotional abuse, discussions of suicide, ableism challenged in text and use of slurs cr zy hide spoiler Ok so I feel sort of attacked, ok just kidding I don t, ok maybe I do I did find myself relating to Anna, who is the main character in the book a fair, bit, being a Chinese Aussie myself, even though I m from Melbourne and Anna is from Sydney I felt that when she looked over at a certain group of people and at how they were all going to get super higher ATAR Australia Tertiary Admission Rank, from those non Aussies out there, it s the score that bases what uni s we get into and all had classi Ok so I feel sort of attacked, ok just kidding I don t, ok maybe I do I did find myself relating to Anna, who is the main character in the book a fair, bit, being a Chinese Aussie myself, even though I m from Melbourne and Anna is from Sydney I felt that when she looked over at a certain group of people and at how they were all going to get super higher ATAR Australia Tertiary Admission Rank, from those non Aussies out there, it s the score that bases what uni s we get into and all had classical piano training, but well, that s actually sort of like me Now, I totally sympathise with Anna a position and truth be told, there are lots of Asians in Australia and the West in general who are forced to take up a classical instrument, like I was, but the good thing is that I adore piano now so it s all good I did find that the way that the author conveyed racism was superbly down, often in smallsubtle ways, that the person saying it may not actually realise it is that racist at all I m often stereotyped for the sort of Asian that going to become a doctor or whatever since I get good grades in school, yet often, the Western kids never get those sort of comments Now Anna feels the pressure of needing to be amazing at school and feels like that she isn t this perfect daughter, which, honestly, in Chinese circles and cultures, is so understandable and relatable I found that perhaps I could relate to Annathan a fair number of people, since I suppose I really felt all the cultural stuff and that stuff really struck a lot closer to heart For others, I think it could be eye opening to the sort of pressure Asian Australians or Asian Americans kids may feel sometimes I m totally up there with Anna, though I don t know if I have as much pressure as her, especially since she is nearing the ending of high school and that is quite a struggle for people.Relatability All the stars.The dialogue here was an interesting one, since it was muchfree than most books I have read, which threw me off slightly, though I got used to it pretty quickly and I think it felt muchnatural coming out of a teenager s mouth Hearing things like sooooo and the such was really nice for a change instead of really formal sort of stuff, since look, teenagers aren t really mature people most of the time, like at all I would know since I am one.This did end up making the characters feel muchrealistic and often, at an important motion in the story, when say, they would open up about something, it did end up being extremely raw That was a really great part of the book that I also really liked, since it did feel so raw, real and open to me personally, especially since I could already relate to many aspects of the books This book also does happen to deal with some pretty traumatic issues that I really don t know much about, but the author managed to also display it in a really upfront and I suppose, realistic way to try and make the reader understand from all standpoints, such as where Anna is coming from when trying to deal with her Mum I found the side characters to also be quite well realised people, all with their own quirks and personalities, which was really nice, as often, side characters can be left out and often can be underdeveloped, which can be such a shame, so luckily, they were realised to their full potential here.Something that irked me slightly was the relationship between Anna and her love interest Rory While I really liked Rory as a character, he is 20, while Anna is only 16 at the start of the book, which does make her a minor, and I think because of the modern bounds and rules that I am used to, it does happen to be a bit of a weird decision in my opinion as that is sort of not that legal That being said, I did like Rory as a character and the stuff he had to handle was presented really well by the author.Overall, I did really end up liking this book, and I found it to be quite relatable and quite realistic 9 10 quick thoughts i adored this the only thing holding me back from a higher rating was the fact that a the romance was between a 16yo girl in high school and a 20yo man who worked for her father s businessb how frustratingly obvious this was written by an american author, despite being set in australia with an aussie cast Trigger warnings for view spoiler ableism ableist language central theme , racism racial slurs, microaggressions discussed, classism, physical, emotional verbal pare quick thoughts i adored this the only thing holding me back from a higher rating was the fact that a the romance was between a 16yo girl in high school and a 20yo man who worked for her father s businessb how frustratingly obvious this was written by an american author, despite being set in australia with an aussie cast Trigger warnings for view spoiler ableism ableist language central theme , racism racial slurs, microaggressions discussed, classism, physical, emotional verbal parental abuse, depression, delusions hallucinations discussed op , graphic suicide attempt recounted, suicide suicidal ideation discussed, alcohol consumption, pregnancy mentioned, forced hospitalisation recounted, forced pyschiatric hospitalisation of a parent, animal cruelty op , and bullying hide spoiler Representation Anna mc is Chinese Australia Rory li has depression Chinese, queer neurodiverse scs Blog Goodreads Twitter Instagram Such a heartwarming, eye opening story about family, mental illness, the Chinese immigrant experience in Australia, Cantonese culture, andThere s also a sweet romance and lots of delicious Chinese food that made me hungry P Want to seeBookstagram WebsiteWoW I loved this book It is one of the few contemporary books that is realistic Not everything in life is perfect and this book exposed that The characters were beautiful and the culture of the book was delightful.Highly recommend this book Want to seeBookstagram WebsiteWoW I loved this book It is one of the few contemporary books that is realistic Not everything in life is perfect and this book exposed that The characters were beautiful and the culture of the book was delightful.Highly recommend this book 3 in the Goodreads NZ ReadathonCW view spoiler Suicidal thoughts, mental health issues resulting in child neglect and institutionalisation possibly bipolar , racial stereotyping, animal cruelty hide spoiler Warning This book will bring on an intense desire to eat dumplings and other delicious Chinese food.What a gem of a book I loved the dynamics between the different family members and reading about the customary deferential treatment of parents in Chinese culture The way the tension 3 in the Goodreads NZ ReadathonCW view spoiler Suicidal thoughts, mental health issues resulting in child neglect and institutionalisation possibly bipolar , racial stereotyping, animal cruelty hide spoiler Warning This book will bring on an intense desire to eat dumplings and other delicious Chinese food.What a gem of a book I loved the dynamics between the different family members and reading about the customary deferential treatment of parents in Chinese culture The way the tension built up slowly was quite masterful As the mother started becomingerratic I could feel my own anxiety rising as an inevitable breaking point drew closer I thought the portrayal of the stigma around mental illness was good, and having the Chinese cultural views carefully and respectfully added in brought another layer of depth The heart breaking moments were balanced nicely with the warmth I felt at the loving moments between the siblings I think this is also quite an important book in terms of understanding the pressures faced by young people who have family responsibilities and obligations These responsibilities are juggled with school, following their own interests hobbies, building relationships and developing their own sense of identity Anna is navigating all of this as a Chinese Australian This adds a further layer of complexity as her parents maintain that their Chinese values need to be upheld by the family Anna was an endearing character and I really enjoyed her journey.A book with incredible heart and depth I thoroughly recommend it 5 5 absolutely loved it Amazing read, binged it in a day and a half and didn t want to put it down A must read, full review HERE 5 5 absolutely loved it Amazing read, binged it in a day and a half and didn t want to put it down A must read, full review HERE. A late night decision to start this book and keep reading was probably one of the smartest decisions I made This wonderful story really touched my heart A book that explores cultural clashes in the western world, bullying, racism and mental illness a concept that many still do not fully understand and still holds cultural stigmas today Wai did a fantastic job in capturing this from different angles a family member watching another family member suffer from it, a friend who is listening to A late night decision to start this book and keep reading was probably one of the smartest decisions I made This wonderful story really touched my heart A book that explores cultural clashes in the western world, bullying, racism and mental illness a concept that many still do not fully understand and still holds cultural stigmas today Wai did a fantastic job in capturing this from different angles a family member watching another family member suffer from it, a friend who is listening to another recovering from it and being subjected to ridicule and the person who is suffering from mental illness This important concept was captured and weaved it into a touching YA story of unconditional love and real teen issues that made me cry, laugh and feel hope There were times I even found it frightening and confronting This was written very well, it was very realistic and a story that will probably resonate with me for some time I was able to connect with Anna, Lily and even little Michael I could understand why each character behaved the way they did throughout the book and I was also able to relate to some of the cultural expectations Anna was subjected to like how do you say what you really feel to your parents and still be their loving, dutiful daughter No doubt on some level, everyone who reads this story will find a connection either with the themes explored or the characters we meet side note I love Rory This is such a great book, please read it when it s out Special thanks to Allen Unwin Publishers for providing me with a finished review copy of this book