book review

The Surprising Power Of A Good Dumpling | Wai Chim



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 teen.

But 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 other.


This hit me from the very beginning. Just, BAM! And I was hooked. I know that there are a few books floating around these days focusing more on mental illness, and kudos for that! But something I hadn’t seen was one based around Asian culture, and I loved it.

Anna does what I guess most of the oldest children in families do, they look out for the others. You see throughout just how much she loves and protects her brother and sister, all the while trying to keep up with school, figure out what was wrong with her mum, and wanting to help her dad.

You also see in a way of what other’s may say or feel towards people of an Asian culture, in reference to thinking they are all the same, and in a way how it makes them feel.

Obviously while Anna’s mum is struggling with mental illness, Chim has written it so wonderfully well, how some people turn a blind eye, they don’t understand, they think there is an easy fix, or they just judge, and the heartbreaking way it can pull a family apart, but also bring them closer together.

Anna and Rory’s relationship is just adorable from start to finish and I ship it.

I just want to talk about the little things I loved too, not only with the story but the whole book in general. The cover got me, if I seen this on a shelf in a book store I would definitely gravitate towards it, the little note in the front from Chim about Jyutping Romanisation system as a way of representing Anna’s use of her Chinese tongue. Did I understand it? No, but theres the English translation anyway, and I love that it made the book more authentic! And the little spacer pages with the pictures of the teapots, fans, lanterns, bowls of dumplings and noodles again paying homage to the culture.

The Surprising Power Of A Good Dumpling is a wonferully written book about culture, family, mental illness and coming together when it’s needed to most, and love.

*Thank you to the team at Allen and Unwin for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for a review.

Book details:

Publication: 05/08/19

Publisher: Allen & Unwin Children’s

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781760631581

RRP: $19.99 AUD

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