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Listen to the Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What's a Daughter To Do? A Memoir (Sort Of)

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As the 800,000+ U.S. fans of Elaine Lui’s site know, her mother, aka The Squawking Chicken, is a huge factor in Elaine’s life. She pulls no punches, especially with her only child. “Where’s my money?” she asks every time she sees Elaine. “You’ll never be Miss Hong Kong,” she informed her daughter when she was a girl. Listen to the Squawking Chicken lays bare the playbook o As the 800,000+ U.S. fans of Elaine Lui’s site know, her mother, aka The Squawking Chicken, is a huge factor in Elaine’s life. She pulls no punches, especially with her only child. “Where’s my money?” she asks every time she sees Elaine. “You’ll never be Miss Hong Kong,” she informed her daughter when she was a girl. Listen to the Squawking Chicken lays bare the playbook of unusual advice, warnings, and unwavering love that has guided Elaine throughout her life. Using the nine principles that her mother used to raise her, Elaine tells us the story of the Squawking Chicken’s life—in which she walked an unusual path to parent with tough love, humor, and, through it all, a mother’s unyielding devotion to her daughter. This is a love letter to mothers everywhere.


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As the 800,000+ U.S. fans of Elaine Lui’s site know, her mother, aka The Squawking Chicken, is a huge factor in Elaine’s life. She pulls no punches, especially with her only child. “Where’s my money?” she asks every time she sees Elaine. “You’ll never be Miss Hong Kong,” she informed her daughter when she was a girl. Listen to the Squawking Chicken lays bare the playbook o As the 800,000+ U.S. fans of Elaine Lui’s site know, her mother, aka The Squawking Chicken, is a huge factor in Elaine’s life. She pulls no punches, especially with her only child. “Where’s my money?” she asks every time she sees Elaine. “You’ll never be Miss Hong Kong,” she informed her daughter when she was a girl. Listen to the Squawking Chicken lays bare the playbook of unusual advice, warnings, and unwavering love that has guided Elaine throughout her life. Using the nine principles that her mother used to raise her, Elaine tells us the story of the Squawking Chicken’s life—in which she walked an unusual path to parent with tough love, humor, and, through it all, a mother’s unyielding devotion to her daughter. This is a love letter to mothers everywhere.

30 review for Listen to the Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What's a Daughter To Do? A Memoir (Sort Of)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Gabby

    I received an ARC of The Squawking Chicken by Elaine Lui in return for an honest review. I gave this book 2 Stars because it was very well written. That's all I thought it had going for it. Elaine Lui has a very unusual mother who has a very unusual background. The mother is the Squawking Chicken about whom Lui has managed to put together enough material to cover a whole book. The Squawking Chicken sees no need to filter anything she says. That others may have sensitive feelings is of no concern I received an ARC of The Squawking Chicken by Elaine Lui in return for an honest review. I gave this book 2 Stars because it was very well written. That's all I thought it had going for it. Elaine Lui has a very unusual mother who has a very unusual background. The mother is the Squawking Chicken about whom Lui has managed to put together enough material to cover a whole book. The Squawking Chicken sees no need to filter anything she says. That others may have sensitive feelings is of no concern to her since she feels justified in speaking her mind whenever and wherever she pleases. As a result, most of the time she comes off as a rotten little brat who never learned the lesson that children should be seen but not heard. However, she's not a child, and she has lived long enough to have learned a few lessons in socially acceptable behavior. It seems to me she simply chooses to ignore any rules of behavior that mean she has to curtail her loud mouth and her disruptive announcements. According to Lui, it isn't that her mother is unaware of how her behavior affects others; she simply believes that she's right in whatever situation she finds herself where criticism would be in order. Lui goes through some convoluted explanations why what her mother says and does is acceptable. If she believes that, I doubt any time spent with a psychiatrist would ever be enough for her to work through the insecurities and lack of self-esteem her mother has managed to pass along. I did not enjoy reading this book. It was a little bit like having to sit and watch someone pick the wings off flies. It's distasteful and uncomfortable, but I requested this book, so I feel an obligation to finish it no matter how much I dislike what I'm learning. Part of my problem with the book is that I had a mother like The Squawking Chicken. She wasn't Asian, she was Pennsylvania Dutch, and she did not sound like a squawking chicken when she spoke; she sounded more like a Stampeding Pissed-Off Elephant in Heat. There was no wisdom in her edicts; everything in this world revolved around her and others existed only in ways in which she could benefit from them. These women are not the ones we need to read about outside of the horror genre. I would not recommend this book to anyone. Frankly, it's just too pathetic.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Bolderston

    Sooooo disappointed! I love Lainey and her snarky blog, I think she's smart. witty and can deliver a killer one-liner so I was really looking forward to this biographical account of her relationship with her mother. I think there were two problems for me. The first was that Lainey's colloquial style (like a deliciously bitchy email from a girlfriend) works well on a blog, but can't sustain a full book. After a while it looks shallow and trite. The second problem was I found her portrayal of her Sooooo disappointed! I love Lainey and her snarky blog, I think she's smart. witty and can deliver a killer one-liner so I was really looking forward to this biographical account of her relationship with her mother. I think there were two problems for me. The first was that Lainey's colloquial style (like a deliciously bitchy email from a girlfriend) works well on a blog, but can't sustain a full book. After a while it looks shallow and trite. The second problem was I found her portrayal of her mother deeply unsympathetic. I could empathise with her mother's struggles and difficult upbringing but she seemed to have no redeeming qualities - difficult because the whole book was built around her. I could see how some of her characteristics could be seen as "quirky" and appreciate the differences in east versus west parenting styles but she seemed flat, malicious and just plain odd. I also did not find it "hilarious" as many of the enthusiastic reviews proclaimed. I did see Lainey discussing the book and her mother when she was launching it in Vancouver and she does a MUCH better job in person. The stories, in small doses, were very funny and her affection for her mum was evident. It just didn't translate onto the page.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Now I understand my mother-in-law better. I understand why not to get attached to a dim sum place (you'll always move to a newer one), why my wife doesn't get birthday gifts (for being born? her mum did the work that day), and why soup must be drunk (put simply, you'll likely die immediately without it). Not that my wife hasn't patiently explained all this to me. Some small part of me always said, "But it must be only her mother." No. Apparently Elaine Lui has one too. Funny, but at times reflecti Now I understand my mother-in-law better. I understand why not to get attached to a dim sum place (you'll always move to a newer one), why my wife doesn't get birthday gifts (for being born? her mum did the work that day), and why soup must be drunk (put simply, you'll likely die immediately without it). Not that my wife hasn't patiently explained all this to me. Some small part of me always said, "But it must be only her mother." No. Apparently Elaine Lui has one too. Funny, but at times reflective. I am, perhaps, one of the few guys who will read this. Though other wai guo ren marrying into the Chinese diaspora would benefit. Follow me on Twitter: @Dr_A_Taubman

  4. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I sat down to read a couple of pages in the library and got sucked into finishing the whole thing. Ms. Lui can write, and write well. The whole thing made me a little sad though. So much pain in the lives of both of these women, and that is - mostly - glossed over. It does not surprise me that Lui deliberately chose not to have children. Her own childhood was difficult and her relationship with her mother was fraught with resentment that she is not ever allowed to feel. Instead, she is supposed t I sat down to read a couple of pages in the library and got sucked into finishing the whole thing. Ms. Lui can write, and write well. The whole thing made me a little sad though. So much pain in the lives of both of these women, and that is - mostly - glossed over. It does not surprise me that Lui deliberately chose not to have children. Her own childhood was difficult and her relationship with her mother was fraught with resentment that she is not ever allowed to feel. Instead, she is supposed to be grateful for everything her mother did for her, even the humiliation, abandonment, and constant criticism. The Filial Piety, that along with mahjong, is her mother's religion means that for being born and raised, a woman owes her mother a debt that must be paid back eternally, without end. The Squawking Chicken says her daughter is the only friend she needs...so all her emotional needs must be met by that child. This book had some funny scenes, but overall, it is a downer.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Wanda

    This book made me miss my mother. I wish I could phone her. I wish I could get her to read this book and tell me what she thinks of it. I just wish I could hear her voice once more—something that I haven’t heard for eighteen years. Now let me be clear—my mother was nothing like Elaine Lui’s mother, the Squawking Chicken. She had a happy childhood, a good marriage, and I think the normal desire to see her children do well. The Sqawking Chicken had a brutal childhood (her parents contemplated letti This book made me miss my mother. I wish I could phone her. I wish I could get her to read this book and tell me what she thinks of it. I just wish I could hear her voice once more—something that I haven’t heard for eighteen years. Now let me be clear—my mother was nothing like Elaine Lui’s mother, the Squawking Chicken. She had a happy childhood, a good marriage, and I think the normal desire to see her children do well. The Sqawking Chicken had a brutal childhood (her parents contemplated letting her die because she, as the oldest child, knew details about their lives that they would rather cover up), a husband who lost her for ten years when he refused to stand up to his family for her, and a child who she pushed hard to be successful. A tiger mother before such things were spoken of, a mother like that would have been a disaster for a quiet, introverted little girl such as me. Lui, however, seems to have survived and thrived. Not that my mother was a quiet, submissive woman—far from it. She was a writer and I remember falling asleep in the evening to the sound of the typewriter as she worked on the latest project. She was a farm wife and she ran the household and garden, preserved the produce, managed the budget, did the taxes, and let us all know what we could and could not afford. When harvest time came, she added livestock care to her daily duties, while Dad swathed, combined and moved grain until after dark when the dampness of the evening would decrease the quality of the grain. It was expected that I would go out to the farm each fall to help her dig potatoes, carrots, and turnips. She used to tell me that Dad was too impatient—he ended up chopping into potatoes, which would then rot during storage. “You’re patient enough, you dig carefully, you wipe off the dirt, and you leave them out to dry properly. I’d much rather work with you.” She did me the favour of asking me each year, but I never turned her down. The only time I did turn her down was the spring that she decided that she was going to get chickens. “This fall, you and I can process chickens too,” she told me. Now, I know that I cannot wield the axe that kills the chickens, the smell of wet feathers during plucking makes me nauseous, and that I cannot cut up a chicken from the store, let alone cut into a recently deceased chicken and remove its internal organs. I had to regretfully tell me mother that if she bought chickens, she would be on her own when it came time to deal with them. And although she was capable of doing immense amounts of work without complaint, I noticed that she didn’t buy chickens that spring. But what I enjoyed most was how much my mother enjoyed reading and discussing what she read. When she finished a book, it was often handed over to me. “Read it and tell me what you think,” she’d say. I remember her reading aloud vast portions of A Prayer for Owen Meany, and the two of us laughing hysterically at the ridiculous voice that she had chosen to use for Owen’s dialog. I remember passionate debates about which Canadian Margaret was the best writer—Margaret Laurence was her choice, Margaret Atwood was mine. I would drive home on a Friday evening and she would have a pot of coffee waiting—we would drink the coffee, talk about what we had been reading, watch the news, and go to bed. I never remember the caffeine keeping me awake. Like The End of Your Life Book Club, we talked about so many important personal matters by talking about books. I’m glad for Ms. Lui’s sake that she still has her mother. But, not for the first time, I wish I could discuss books with my mother just one more time. I’m sorry, this review tells you almost nothing about the book and probably way too much about me.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jacki (Julia Flyte)

    Elaine Lui is a Canadian Entertainment Journalist who writes the gossip blog "Lainey Gossip". This memoir is about her relationship with her mother, aka the "Squawking Chicken" (a nickname that she's had since she was a teenager). Lainey explains in the book's introduction that she wrote the book to honour her mother and to acknowledge how every success that she's had in her life stems from her mother's devotion to her. While I believe she means this, what comes across instead is that her mother Elaine Lui is a Canadian Entertainment Journalist who writes the gossip blog "Lainey Gossip". This memoir is about her relationship with her mother, aka the "Squawking Chicken" (a nickname that she's had since she was a teenager). Lainey explains in the book's introduction that she wrote the book to honour her mother and to acknowledge how every success that she's had in her life stems from her mother's devotion to her. While I believe she means this, what comes across instead is that her mother has manipulated, controlled, criticised and dominated her life. It makes for uncomfortable reading. According to Wikipedia, "traumatic bonding" is defined as "strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other." I don't doubt that Lainey loves her mother deeply. Nor do I doubt that her mother acts in ways that she thinks are the best for Lainey. However it doesn't feel like a healthy relationship. Some examples. Throughout her life, Lainey's mother has stressed to her daughter how beauty is not a worthwhile thing to aspire to or admire in another. What counts are your abilities and how hard you work. Fine. But then why does she constantly tell her daughter how pretty SHE was and how she could have been Miss Hong Kong? Why tell your daughter that unlike her beautiful mother, she has a stocky body and thick legs? If you want to emphasise that looks don't matter, don't also boast about how much more attractive you were. Another example. The Squawking Chicken tells Lainey that it is her duty to be forever grateful to her mother for giving her the gift of life. Lainey's role in life is to come running whenever her mother needs her, to buy her gifts, to pay for her holidays (and anyone else her mother wants to take along), to ring her frequently and essentially to be at her beck and call. While I understand that different cultures have more respect for their parents - and I think that's a wonderful thing - I felt very uncomfortable about the way that her mother will ring Lainey when she has others with her to demand (for example) an expensive holiday. She almost never gives Lainey the space to make her own mistakes - and if Lainey does make a mistake, she immediately jumps in to point out that it's her fault for not listening to her mother. When Lainey started dating, if her mother didn't like the boyfriend she would run him down endlessly, criticising his hair or - even worse - making fun of her daughter in front of others. As Lainey points out, her biases against people are often inconsistent. Someone who jiggles their leg when talking is immediately written off, but burping, farting, peeing in a neighbour's garden and eating with your mouth open are all totally fine. Feng Shui plays a large part in her mother's life and again this is used to control Lainey's life. She issues Lainey with a series of dictates which she won't explain but hints darkly at terrible consequences if they are not followed to the letter. This means that she can claim the credit for any success in Lainey's life, but when things don't go well she can insist it's because Lainey didn't follow the rules closely enough. She chose the house for Lainey and her husband to buy and they obediently bought it without ever stepping foot in it, simply because her mother was so insistent! Do they like the house? Lainey doesn't say - I guess that's irrelevant. I felt bad for not liking this book more. Lui's writing shines in her blog, but somehow in the book the humour gets (mostly) lost. As Lainey writes at one point, "my happiness is a priority for my mother only if it leads to her own happiness". That doesn't feel to me like a healthy mother/daughter relationship. I'm sorry Lainey, I love your blog, but I didn't enjoy this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jen Kirsch

    This morning I read Lainey Gossip's much talked about "sorta" memoir, Listen to the Squaking Chicken. The book is all about her mom, her moms history, friendships, failed relationships and mostly, her parenting skills (or lack thereof.) Within reading the first chapter, I was anxious to finish this book, only so I could go on to read to my next one waiting - calling - for me on my bookshelf. I felt disappointed in myself that I decided to go for this read first, but I blame that on both my curre This morning I read Lainey Gossip's much talked about "sorta" memoir, Listen to the Squaking Chicken. The book is all about her mom, her moms history, friendships, failed relationships and mostly, her parenting skills (or lack thereof.) Within reading the first chapter, I was anxious to finish this book, only so I could go on to read to my next one waiting - calling - for me on my bookshelf. I felt disappointed in myself that I decided to go for this read first, but I blame that on both my current obsession with memoirs, alongside the misleading comment by Twitter funny-girl and best selling author Jenny Lawson. I feel also disappointed in myself for not enjoying or relating on any level to this book, as Elaine is a colleague and we work with many of the same people and companies. My not liking her tale isn't about her, or her writing, but instead my inability to appreciate the topic matter. I was raised in complete opposite to how she was and where her mom was harsh, cold and heavily used shame to teach Elaine a lesson, I was brought up completely opposite of that. In fact, because of how my mom raised me, her warmth, empathy and support, I turn developed a career on relationships themselves. I was turned off by how blunt and inconsiderate the main character (her mom) was and what she made Elaine go through, just to teach her a lesson. I also felt that the need for the writer to justify and defend these actions over the last 3-5 pages of each chapter was redundant and counter-intuitive. I expected laughs as I'm a huge fan of Lainey Gossip, and of many of her opinions on The Social, however this fell short of my expectations. God, now I sound like her mother.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    How I Came To Read This Book: I got a digital ARC from the publisher. The Plot: Elaine Lui is a first generation Chinese-Canadian. Her mother is the titular squawking chicken. Through 10 essays (each of which is typically stitched together from 3 or 4 shorter anecdotes) she explores her mother's insane (by Western standards) way of raising her daughter - and why Elaine may not be entirely grateful for a lifetime of shaming, but at the very least recognizes what she's learned or gained from her mo How I Came To Read This Book: I got a digital ARC from the publisher. The Plot: Elaine Lui is a first generation Chinese-Canadian. Her mother is the titular squawking chicken. Through 10 essays (each of which is typically stitched together from 3 or 4 shorter anecdotes) she explores her mother's insane (by Western standards) way of raising her daughter - and why Elaine may not be entirely grateful for a lifetime of shaming, but at the very least recognizes what she's learned or gained from her mom's antics. The Good & The Bad: This was a pretty interesting book for me to read, as I'm a fourth generation Canadian white girl, so delving into Chinese culture on this rather candid, intimate level was intriguing. As Elaine Lui points out herself, a lot of her mom's parenting tactics did leave me surprised and maybe a little appalled at some points. The real question mark for me then, is Elaine. Her stories veer toward humorous, but also have a tinge of Stockholm syndrome to them. She almost never outright thanks her mom or agrees with 'mother knows best' but many of her stories point to the many, many occasions (and tall tales) that it appears her mom indeed may have been right all along. And it's not like all of the Squawking Chicken's advice or interference is totally off-base (including her reprimand that 'pretty isn't everything' and shaking Elaine out of a post-University funk for not seizing her western world privileges). In fact, I'm sure a lot of it is in line with the whole 'Tiger Mother' culture and the Eastern way of parenting that Elaine details, wherein a child is given the greatest gift at birth - their life - one they will not be able to pay back within their lifetimes. Where Eastern culture dictates a child can't be happy unless they've made their parents happy, Western culture is all about the parent not being happy unless their kid is happy. That's really the crux of this east-meets-west memoir, of Elaine reluctantly kowtowing to her mom's somewhat tyrannical ways and almost writing this book as a way of saying, 'But see, there's a method to her madness.' The book never really comes off as preachy or judgmental of people that don't subscribe to the Squawking Chicken's black and white world, and indeed, the book isn't afraid to shoot barbs in the other direction, particularly the chapter on 'one true friend' as a pretty heavy skewering of her mom's lack of empathy. And yet I'm not sure what the takeaway here is...Lui neither entirely condemns her mom nor laughs off her childhood plights. She feels very much at arm's length from the story of this superhuman woman, whether out of practice in being raised in a rather unemotional household or out of self-preservation in facing some of the uglier truths of her past (even if they are somewhat played for humour). Although obviously not a critique that Lui chose not to have children, in many ways this book would be more interesting if she had. How does a woman raised by the Squawking Chicken raise her own kid if she abstractly subscribes to a lot of her mom's crazy practices? Although, to look at it another way - maybe her decision to not have kids stems from what it was like to be raised by this woman. Just a thought. The Bottom Line: Although an insightful, frank and amusing look at one woman's Chinese-Canadian upbringing, the book lacks a bit of the takeaway and resolve that you might expect for a work so candid. Anything Memorable?: Nope 60-Book Challenge: Book #17 in 2014

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sue Louie

    There seems to be an undertone of bitterness below the shallow layer of 'humour' in this 'sort of memoir'. Calling her mom a squawking chicken for example raises a red flag. Is the author not aware of the connotation of labelling a woman a 'chicken'? (squawking or otherwise) It isn't exactly a term of endearment. -What about the repeated mentioning of her mom's violation. Yes, the traumatic event has been woven into the fabric of both their lives... But what is her purpose of waving it about like There seems to be an undertone of bitterness below the shallow layer of 'humour' in this 'sort of memoir'. Calling her mom a squawking chicken for example raises a red flag. Is the author not aware of the connotation of labelling a woman a 'chicken'? (squawking or otherwise) It isn't exactly a term of endearment. -What about the repeated mentioning of her mom's violation. Yes, the traumatic event has been woven into the fabric of both their lives... But what is her purpose of waving it about like a banner? -And the bit about Feng Shui blackmail...Granted that it doesn't hurt anyone to be properly hydrated and to get at least one decent serving of fruit in their daily diet. But the author did not seem to be conveying much Harmony in their practice of finding balance between wind and water! Afterall, she did call it blackmail. THEN EUREKA (and if this is totally the wrong end of the stick...well at least this exercise has been thought provoking) What's a Daughter to do? She gets even with a book... of course. Choice of words and terms are fraught with connotations. Highlighting events that would make the author's 'shaming' scenarios seem mild. And the ultimate 'get even' ploy...no grand child or grandchildren. Is the trade off of never experiencing Filial Piety worth subjecting an overbearing parent to the ultimate Loss of Face? Isn't it?

  10. 4 out of 5

    bec.

    Absolutely loved this memoir. It was heart warming, funny, blatantly truthful, and simply entertaining. As a child of parents who are also immigrants I could relate to Elaine a lot. Full review to come.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chihoe Ho

    If this book was supposed to be incredibly funny, the humour was lost on me. Sure, "Listen to the Squawking Chicken" did elicit some smiles and chuckles, but I would hardly characterize it as "laughing till I rolled off the bed" as author Kevin Kwan describes it. Catherine Gildiner also says she "learned more about Chinese culture from this book" than her time in Hong Kong. It's misleading because while there are commonalities to the traditions and superstitions of the general Chinese culture, E If this book was supposed to be incredibly funny, the humour was lost on me. Sure, "Listen to the Squawking Chicken" did elicit some smiles and chuckles, but I would hardly characterize it as "laughing till I rolled off the bed" as author Kevin Kwan describes it. Catherine Gildiner also says she "learned more about Chinese culture from this book" than her time in Hong Kong. It's misleading because while there are commonalities to the traditions and superstitions of the general Chinese culture, Elaine Lui's experiences with her mother are probably on the extreme and intense side of things. Unless, I'm being told my experiences with my mother and aunts are on the tamer side? Now on to why I love the book... "Listen to the Squawking Chicken" is much more insightful and personal than I expected it to be. Lui writes very candidly about growing up with a tiger mother, a squawking chicken, whatever the moniker. The nickname "Squawking Chicken" was overused - I get it, her mother squawks a lot. My mum would squawk at me too if I disrespected her by calling her by her name or nickname. This brings me to the point of how it is engrained in most Chinese families to not air your dirty laundry in public, or never disrespect and criticize your parents, especially not for the world to hear, so it is refreshing to see this level of openness and clarity from Lui. There are the bad times she unabashedly shares, and she honestly critiques her mother's shortcomings, with which the filial piety drilled in me squirms at. There is also the acknowledgement and expression of her gratitude towards her mother and for the upbringing she has had - if not for the way her Ma is, she would never be who she is today, which by the measures of society, is an enviable, successful life. "Listen to the Squawking Chicken" therefore reminded me of "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," the other half of the story from an Chinese daughter's perspective. They share overlapping themes of mother-daughter relationships, culture, and identity. In my review of "Battle Hymn," I mention how it isn't a parenting book but one that shares a personal experience. Similarly, "Listen to the Squawking Chicken" isn't a how-to guide on dealing with an overbearing Asian mother, nor is it an all-encompassing book on Chinese culture. The fengshui and superstitious parts were a good read, but it is Elaine Lui's anecdotal history which she writes in her voice and with her heart that makes it clear how strong her mother's and her character is. You can't silence a squawking chicken no matter how hard you try, and why would you, if the best of interest is at heart? Mother knows best, and even if she doesn't, let her think that she does.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Trillium (Just Reading in the Rain)☂

    Anyone who is not familiar with Elaine Lui, (aka Lainey gossip) do yourselves a favour, and get familiar. This woman is a firecracker! And although her main claim to fame is celebrity gossip, she is so much more than that... for further proof, tune in to the Social (a Canadian "The View") and just listen to one of her classic rants. When she has an opinion about something, she's going to tell you exactly what it is. Her "memoir" of sorts is mostly about her relationship with her mother, otherwis Anyone who is not familiar with Elaine Lui, (aka Lainey gossip) do yourselves a favour, and get familiar. This woman is a firecracker! And although her main claim to fame is celebrity gossip, she is so much more than that... for further proof, tune in to the Social (a Canadian "The View") and just listen to one of her classic rants. When she has an opinion about something, she's going to tell you exactly what it is. Her "memoir" of sorts is mostly about her relationship with her mother, otherwise known as the Squawking Chicken. It's a very brave thing to write about her, because I can see that a lot of people are going to take this the wrong way and think that Lainey has been bullied and brainwashed her whole life. But I really don't think that is the case here. Her mother is a survivor, first and foremost, and with an iron fist of determination, does her best to provide her daughter with all the things in life she never had, all the while making sure not to spoil her. The stories that Lainey has of her mother are hilarious and chilling. There was some dark stuff going on early in the Squawking Chicken's life. The fact that she remains who she is to this day is a miracle. So many others would have buckled at this point. It was an interesting insight to what its like to be a Chinese immigrant in Canada, to have to learn a new language, to have to make new friends and find several new jobs. It proves that if you have enough guff, you sure can get whatever you want out of life. I would have really liked to have learned a bit more about Lainey strange and fascinating life. Sure the book is mostly about her mother, but Lainey has had some crazy opportunities in her short time on earth and it would have been cool to hear her talk about them... perhaps that's for book two though. Either way, I think that the relationship of mother and daughter in this book is really something special and I'm glad I read about it. It made me appreciate my mother, and my relationship with her and her family. (My mother also immigrated to Canada when she was young - although coming from England, there wasn't that language barrier, it still had its own trials and tribulations) Its worth a read for anyone who needs a fresh perspective to appreciate what they have. Its worth a read for anyone who has immigrant parents. Its worth a read if all your simply looking for is a bit of a laugh. And some positivity.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    I waited a long time to read this book because I hated the title. That turned out to be prophetic, because I really, really didn't like this book. I've been reading Lainey's column almost from the beginning, and I've read her occasional rant about her mother with amusement. That's fine and dandy, but 200 pages of her mother is 199 pages too much. This woman has no discernible redeeming qualities. No matter how tough a childhood is or what kind of cultural background a person comes from, there is I waited a long time to read this book because I hated the title. That turned out to be prophetic, because I really, really didn't like this book. I've been reading Lainey's column almost from the beginning, and I've read her occasional rant about her mother with amusement. That's fine and dandy, but 200 pages of her mother is 199 pages too much. This woman has no discernible redeeming qualities. No matter how tough a childhood is or what kind of cultural background a person comes from, there is still a level of human decency and empathy to be observed, and the Squawking Chicken should be no exception. No wonder Lainey is so high strung. Jacek must be a saint to put up with her mother. I just felt so uncomfortable throughout the book, and as other reviewers have stated, I really found nothing funny or endearing about this virago.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elvina Barclay

    I think I want a Squawking Chicken mother. It wouldn't be easy of course but despite the cringing embarrassment and at times strange advise I would definitely be a much better person. Elaine's mother's story is at times heartbreaking but ultimately so uplifting. I would love to be her friend, if only for 18 months or 2 years until I did something so low classy that she cut me loose without a word and left me scratching my head in wonder (is head scratching "low classy"). A great look at one amazi I think I want a Squawking Chicken mother. It wouldn't be easy of course but despite the cringing embarrassment and at times strange advise I would definitely be a much better person. Elaine's mother's story is at times heartbreaking but ultimately so uplifting. I would love to be her friend, if only for 18 months or 2 years until I did something so low classy that she cut me loose without a word and left me scratching my head in wonder (is head scratching "low classy"). A great look at one amazing family and their lives.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

    I'd rate this 3.5 stars if I could, but since I can't, I generously added the other half star. ;) Fluff. Pure fluff that you can digest in a day or two but likely won't remember a lot of it in 3 months. But that's ok, not every book is meant to fill you up. I did appreciate the anecdotal style of the book, I actually quite enjoy reading little stories of people's lives. Especially lives lived so differently from my own. The writing style was easily digestible and told as if sitting and gossiping I'd rate this 3.5 stars if I could, but since I can't, I generously added the other half star. ;) Fluff. Pure fluff that you can digest in a day or two but likely won't remember a lot of it in 3 months. But that's ok, not every book is meant to fill you up. I did appreciate the anecdotal style of the book, I actually quite enjoy reading little stories of people's lives. Especially lives lived so differently from my own. The writing style was easily digestible and told as if sitting and gossiping over tea. Overall, good first book effort for Lainey.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I did not care for this book. I'm familiar w/ Elaine Lui, aka Lainey Gossip; I've seen her a few times on TV and have read the occasional blog post. But I am not a regular follower of hers. However, what I've seen indicated that this would probably be a well-written and interesting book. It was well-written. Or at least, nothing bothered me about the writing. She brought the characters in the book to life. And she seemed to have a good strong editor. And it was interesting. Her mother, whom the bo I did not care for this book. I'm familiar w/ Elaine Lui, aka Lainey Gossip; I've seen her a few times on TV and have read the occasional blog post. But I am not a regular follower of hers. However, what I've seen indicated that this would probably be a well-written and interesting book. It was well-written. Or at least, nothing bothered me about the writing. She brought the characters in the book to life. And she seemed to have a good strong editor. And it was interesting. Her mother, whom the book is largely about, has an long and storied history. However, I hated this book. Her mother, while having an interesting (and difficult) life, is possibly the most unsympathetic character ever in the history of all books ever written. Ever. I suppose we would consider Liu's mother to be a "Tiger Mom" - who uses shame, humiliation, and emotional blackmail (along with Feng Shui blackmail) to raise her daughter. Liu contrasts this with today's "helicopter parents" who tell their children that they are special, special snowflakes and who often end up spoiled, entitled and annoying. Personally, I find both extremes of the parenting spectrum repulsive. Though I am not a parent, so I try not to talk a lot about my views on modern parenting publicly. But back to the book .. I just found myself really intensely disliking Liu's mother. And it made getting through the book a chore rather than a delight. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone ... unless maybe you had a "Tiger Mom" yourself and wanted to literarily commiserate. But other than that - pass. I do hope Liu writes another book about her own life at some point. She has had an interesting set of experiences and a unique career path. And I think a little of her mom sprinkled judiciously in the context of Liu's own life might make her palatable.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rosanne

    I'm a Laineygossip fan and did like her writing style but I maintain that bloggers turned authors really don't produce very good books. I would have been disappointed if I had purchased this (yay library!), but it is a quick read with some pretty wild and entertaining stories. Lainey either has a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome or she is only telling us half the story, I just can't imagine how her daughterly devotion can result from her relationship as presented here. Beyond that, he work ethi I'm a Laineygossip fan and did like her writing style but I maintain that bloggers turned authors really don't produce very good books. I would have been disappointed if I had purchased this (yay library!), but it is a quick read with some pretty wild and entertaining stories. Lainey either has a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome or she is only telling us half the story, I just can't imagine how her daughterly devotion can result from her relationship as presented here. Beyond that, he work ethic Lainey learned from them is hardly something new or unique to the Squawking Chicken's way of parenting. It is very common among immigrant cultures. The claim that she has not taken a 'proper vacation' since 2006 is kind of BS as although she updates her blog regularly, she has vacationed and talked about it on her blog. This is kind of the reality in new media, not necessarily anything exceptional.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Char

    I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of this book ( thanks Random House Canada) This book filled in some missing pieces for me. I've followed Lainey Gossip for years now and have been entertained by the small servings dished out in her blog. This book was the whole meal that I devoured over one weekend. I could have done it in one sitting but I wanted to make it last as I knew I would only be getting small bits again through her blog and on The Social. I have pre ordered the book through Cha I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of this book ( thanks Random House Canada) This book filled in some missing pieces for me. I've followed Lainey Gossip for years now and have been entertained by the small servings dished out in her blog. This book was the whole meal that I devoured over one weekend. I could have done it in one sitting but I wanted to make it last as I knew I would only be getting small bits again through her blog and on The Social. I have pre ordered the book through Chapters indigo and will be taking the day off to consume Vodka and and another serving of this. I can't wait for the follow up book

  19. 4 out of 5

    wade

    Hopefully this book was written mostly tongue in cheek as it chronicles mother/daughter co- dependency of the highest order. Mother (Squawking Chicken) knows all bolstered by a never ending supply of her interpretations of feng shui and Asian superstitions. The author and daughter seemingly believes that mom is never wrong and her husband has bought in to this whole life where almost every decision has to be made through mom's filter. Ms. Lui, seems to admire her mother who I see as manipulativ Hopefully this book was written mostly tongue in cheek as it chronicles mother/daughter co- dependency of the highest order. Mother (Squawking Chicken) knows all bolstered by a never ending supply of her interpretations of feng shui and Asian superstitions. The author and daughter seemingly believes that mom is never wrong and her husband has bought in to this whole life where almost every decision has to be made through mom's filter. Ms. Lui, seems to admire her mother who I see as manipulative and controlling. It is a fun book because its their lives and I am thankful for that. What will happen when mom is no longer there?

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Elaine Lui runs a gossip blog called Lainey Gossip and sometimes she gives her readers fascinating glimpses into her life with her mother, which is why I wanted to read this book, and why I'm glad I did. I don't know very much about Chinese folk religion or Feng Shui, and so I found seeing the world through the eyes of people who wholeheartedly believe in it to be very interesting. This is a light, gossipy book that can be read in a single afternoon, but it does do a really good job of explainin Elaine Lui runs a gossip blog called Lainey Gossip and sometimes she gives her readers fascinating glimpses into her life with her mother, which is why I wanted to read this book, and why I'm glad I did. I don't know very much about Chinese folk religion or Feng Shui, and so I found seeing the world through the eyes of people who wholeheartedly believe in it to be very interesting. This is a light, gossipy book that can be read in a single afternoon, but it does do a really good job of explaining the cultural, psychological and political reasons why Lainey's mother is the way she is, and exploring the depths of the love between the two of them.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shanna

    I enjoyed Lainey's light, conversational tone. As an avid reader of her blog, reading her book was another step in our growing, one-sided and imaginary bff relationship. The dynamics of the mother-daughter relationship are hard enough to contemplate on the best of days, with the sanest of mothers. On a regular day with a crazy mother, hell bent on having everyone live life on her terms, well, that's a whole other story that's told with 'class' and humour here. Personally, I think it would make a I enjoyed Lainey's light, conversational tone. As an avid reader of her blog, reading her book was another step in our growing, one-sided and imaginary bff relationship. The dynamics of the mother-daughter relationship are hard enough to contemplate on the best of days, with the sanest of mothers. On a regular day with a crazy mother, hell bent on having everyone live life on her terms, well, that's a whole other story that's told with 'class' and humour here. Personally, I think it would make a great book club book, because honestly, what group of women doesn't enjoy dissecting their relationship with their mother. P.s. Jacek is a saint.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anne Boardman

    I scored an advance copy of this book from the Penguin Books First to Read program. I really enjoyed the stories of the Squawking Chicken. Definitely some life lessons in there that I would imagine can only be appreciated when you've lived through the experiences and got some distance for perspective. I have to say though that if my mother acted like the Squawking Chicken or my daughter talked about me like the author did of her mother, I would kill them both in their sleep. Fun read nonetheless I scored an advance copy of this book from the Penguin Books First to Read program. I really enjoyed the stories of the Squawking Chicken. Definitely some life lessons in there that I would imagine can only be appreciated when you've lived through the experiences and got some distance for perspective. I have to say though that if my mother acted like the Squawking Chicken or my daughter talked about me like the author did of her mother, I would kill them both in their sleep. Fun read nonetheless.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jenn McRobbie

    The writing was superb and kept me coming back DESPITE hating the subject matter. Otherwise I would've rated this book much lower. I am half Chinese and half Caucasian. Books like this, in my opinion, just highlight stereotypes about the Chinese. I know, I know "stereotypes have basis in reality" but I found myself cringing through this book. I imagined how mortified my own mom would knowing that The Squawking Chicken's actions would be attributed to "cultural differences." I feel for the author. The writing was superb and kept me coming back DESPITE hating the subject matter. Otherwise I would've rated this book much lower. I am half Chinese and half Caucasian. Books like this, in my opinion, just highlight stereotypes about the Chinese. I know, I know "stereotypes have basis in reality" but I found myself cringing through this book. I imagined how mortified my own mom would knowing that The Squawking Chicken's actions would be attributed to "cultural differences." I feel for the author. But don't blame "the culture." Blame your mom for not knowing better.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Deandra

    Lui spends her day writing blog posts and speaking on TV, so she’s articulate, and it shows through her writing. It’s eloquent and I really liked the style of speaking briefly about some life lesson, or cultural Chinese reference, and then throwing in a story but always tying it together in the end. She kept me completely enthralled and entertained the entire time... (find full review here: http://onthedl.ca/blog/default/view/135/) Lui spends her day writing blog posts and speaking on TV, so she’s articulate, and it shows through her writing. It’s eloquent and I really liked the style of speaking briefly about some life lesson, or cultural Chinese reference, and then throwing in a story but always tying it together in the end. She kept me completely enthralled and entertained the entire time... (find full review here: http://onthedl.ca/blog/default/view/135/)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Karry Vanherreweghe

    I won this book as a First Reads, Goodreads winner. This book has a little bit of everything, but mostly humor. The Squawking Chicken used every opportunity to teach her daughter a lesson and it wasn't necessarily a way my mother would have used, but probably a way she would've wanted to! I laughed, I was shocked and I even learned a few things... like, I really need a Feng Shui master! I won this book as a First Reads, Goodreads winner. This book has a little bit of everything, but mostly humor. The Squawking Chicken used every opportunity to teach her daughter a lesson and it wasn't necessarily a way my mother would have used, but probably a way she would've wanted to! I laughed, I was shocked and I even learned a few things... like, I really need a Feng Shui master!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Daylene

    I love the laineygossip blog, so I was looking forward to reading this book. It definitely is not as great as I was hoping it would be. Sure, there were a few funny parts, but overall, it was sort of lacklustre.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cath

    This book made me chuckle more than once. I envy and admire the relationship EL has with her mother. It's beautiful, complicated and each needs each other to survive. I hope my own daughter sees my faults in the same forgiving way as EL does for her mother. Lucky. This book made me chuckle more than once. I envy and admire the relationship EL has with her mother. It's beautiful, complicated and each needs each other to survive. I hope my own daughter sees my faults in the same forgiving way as EL does for her mother. Lucky.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I didn't love this book. It was interesting to learn about mother/daughter culture in China but I bristled at the 'mother knows best' theme that ran through the book. I didn't love this book. It was interesting to learn about mother/daughter culture in China but I bristled at the 'mother knows best' theme that ran through the book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    Lacked a purpose. Some cute anecdotes but nothing brought it all together and it was poorly edited. Her blog is better...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin Anderson

    Lainey's writing style is extremely engaging, and her stories about her mother fluctuate between funny, heartfelt, and vaguely horrifying. Quick, fun read. Lainey's writing style is extremely engaging, and her stories about her mother fluctuate between funny, heartfelt, and vaguely horrifying. Quick, fun read.

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