3 Star Reads, Adult Fiction, Book Reviews

Book Review: The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang


★ ★ ★

The Wangs vs. the World is Jade Chang’s debut novel, released in early October with all the book circling social media.  It was One of Entertainment Weekly’s Most Anticipated Titles of 2016, and Barnes & Noble’s Discover Pick of Fall 2016. It is about Charles Wang, an immigrant businessman who built a cosmetics company and made a fortune building that empire, however, he loses it all (right down to his last cent) when the financial crisis hit the United States in 2008. Being the prideful, self-made man that he is, he makes the decision that he wants to attempt to reclaim his family’s ancestral lands in China. Before that, he decides to take his family on a road-trip across America to pick up their oldest daughter, who is hiding in upstate New York due to a fallen career of her own.

Being one of the latest books out with a premise revolving around the economic downfall in 2008, I had The Wangs vs. the World on my anticipated reads of this year. It sounded like a humorous, touching riches-to-rags debut, but it didn’t live up to what I was expecting. It was a slow build-up in the beginning, which made it a bit of a struggle to get into, but it did pick up as the story went further on. I thought the premise was interesting, but the execution was not as promising. There were parts of the novel that had lost my interest or just didn’t fit into playing a role in the story-telling, in my opinion. However, while I did not like this book as much as I hoped, there were other aspects that made up for it–the characters being just that. I thought the variety of personalities and how well done they were made for a wild ride through the road trip with the Wang family. The characters are definitely what kept me reading, and while it wasn’t a favorite or one that I would pick up again, it was an entertaining adventure with family drama. I see why other readers loved The Wangs vs. the World, it just wasn’t for me.


Charles Wang is mad at America. A brash, lovable immigrant businessman who built a cosmetics empire and made a fortune, he’s just been ruined by the financial crisis. Now all Charles wants is to get his kids safely stowed away so that he can go to China and attempt to reclaim his family’s ancestral lands—and his pride.
Charles pulls Andrew, his aspiring comedian son, and Grace, his style-obsessed daughter, out of schools he can no longer afford. Together with their stepmother, Barbra, they embark on a cross-country road trip from their foreclosed Bel-Air home to the upstate New York hideout of the eldest daughter, disgraced art world it-girl Saina. But with his son waylaid by a temptress in New Orleans, his wife ready to defect for a set of 1,000-thread-count sheets, and an epic smash-up in North Carolina, Charles may have to choose between the old world and the new, between keeping his family intact and finally fulfilling his dream of starting anew in China.

Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 4th 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Purchase on Amazon

I received a copy in exchange for an unbiased review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.


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