The Wangs Vs. the World
By Jade Chang
ARC e-book, 368 pages
2016, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN: 9780544734098 (hardcover)
Charles Wang came to America and amassed a fortune by building his own makeup production company from the ground up. But a poorly thought out business decision has not only lost him his company, but his house, cars and all other assets as well. Pulling two of his children out of school and packing them, along with their stepmother, into an old car he sold to his long time nanny, Charles takes his family from LA to rural New York to live with his eldest daughter.
At times, I do enjoy character-driven contemporary novels and when I saw this book was available on NetGalley, I’d already seen quite a few people on Instagram talking about it. I did enjoy the first half of this book – getting to know the characters and what led to the fall of the family business was intriguing. I especially liked Grace, who at first appears to be a spastic teenager, but proves herself to be very savvy when it comes to her blog and observant when it comes to her family.
As a character, Charles didn’t really interest me, though his story did. I enjoyed learning about how he built his business and I was desperate to know how it all fell down around him. For quite some time he refers to his mistake as simply The Failure, leaving readers guessing as to how he lost his fortunes. I also enjoyed Saina’s chapters, as she was so removed from the family and their drama and she was probably the character I was most engrossed in. Her life was almost a secondary plot to the story, so there was more detail and development for her than her siblings.
However, shortly after the halfway point, this book really petered out for me. I wasn’t sure what Chang was working towards and I began to get bored with the characters. I found Andrew especially annoying and often wanted to reach into the book and smack him. Even Saina began to disappoint me and I stopped caring about where her story arc was headed.
I slogged through the last half of the book and while at times it made me chuckle, the book was a letdown. I’m really not sure what I was expecting from this book, but it didn’t deliver for me. The ending felt unresolved as well and left me wondering why I read the rest of the book if it was going to be so open-ended. Perhaps I just missed the message? Totally possible!
I’m not mad I read it, but I wouldn’t quite recommend it either. Just not the story for me!
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own.