Rating: 4 / 5
Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians tells the complicated and exceptionally interesting story of the madness that ensues when Nick Young, the heir to one of the largest fortunes in Asia, brings his middle-class Asian-American girlfriend, Rachel Chu, home to Singapore for the summer to meet his family.
The story follows several Singaporean family members and friends as they learn about and meet Rachel and as they deal with their own personal issues. There’s Astrid, Nick’s fabulous cousin, whose marriage is on the rocks; Eddie, another of Nick’s cousins, who cares more about his family’s perception in the media than he does about his family’s perception of him; Eleanor Young, Nick’s mother, who – along with every other woman on the island – is skeptical of Rachel’s motivations for being with Nick; and Colin Chu, Nick’s best friend, who is getting married at the event of the century.
Kwan paints a seriously fun picture of the secret lives of the Asian elite, all the while highlighting an important lesson – that a person’s value is not derived from the wealth and history of her family.
If you watched the movie, don’t write this book off! It’s so much better and shares much more interesting detail about secondary characters than the movie.
While Crazy Rich Asians is very lighthearted, please still take caution when reading this novel if any of the following topics may trigger you:
- Animal cruelty (brief)
Crazy Rich Asians is a super fun, quick read. The chapters are very short and switch between several characters’ stories all the time, so it never gets boring. With so many characters to remember, it’s surprisingly easy to keep them all straight. Kwan’s ability to describe the fantastical homes, locations, and events of uber-wealthy Singaporeans elicits a sense of wonder. More than once, I wondered if what he’s describing is actually how Singapore is. (Have you been there? Share your experiences – I need know!)
While the main story of Nick and Rachel visiting Singapore and navigating difficult families and crazy friends is very good, there’s so much more than that. Astrid’s story is one of my favorites – she’s enchanting and fiercely independent, and her response to her tumultuous marriage is both entertaining and heartbreaking.
I’ve given this novel a 4 out of 5 only because it may have been too easy to read. It’s so lighthearted that when I was done and thought about whether I should read the sequel or not (there are three books in the Crazy Rich Asians series), I decided to move on to a different, more challenging novel. I’ll go back to the next books at some point, but I definitely craved more of a challenge once I was finished.
I’m so grateful that you took the time to read my thoughts on Crazy Rich Asians. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the novel in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya!