“Can’t I go on holiday with my girlfriend without it becoming a diplomatic incident?”
Rachel Chu loves her boyfriend. He’s charming, intelligent, kind. When he invites her to spend the summer with him in Singapore, meeting his family, she expects, well, nothing. Sure, families are crazy, and Nick’s is traditional, but how bad can it be?
The answer turns out to be far more than Rachel ever imagined. From the veritable palace Nick grew up in, to the formidable women who may as well be Royalty, Rachel enters a world she never even dreamed possible. But the biggest shocker isn’t the wealth. It’s that not everyone, including Nick’s mother, thinks Rachel belongs with Nick.
“I have no idea who these people are. But I can tell you one thing — these people are richer than God.”
So, I realize I’m late to this party. I’ve actually owned this novel for over a year. I know, bad book nerd. But, when I saw that there was a movie coming out, I realized I needed to push it up my TBR. And, man, am I glad I did!
First, I adored everything about this novel. It is a fun novel, yes, but it’s incredibly well written. I was immediately transported to Singapore (and all over the world) with these characters. The detail to not just the surrounding scenery, but to the personalities of each character made them vivid and real.
The absolute genius is how Kwan takes caricature ideas and makes them incredibly realistic and believable. It is satire. It is a story about rich people and their meddling ways. This is a story that could easily come across as ridiculous, or overly stereotypical, and yet, it isn’t. It is detailed and nuanced. It is funny and tragic. It is very real life. The twists and turns are anything but predictable, and I loved that I had absolutely no idea where the story, or the characters, were taking me.
“Last night had been magical, and yet she couldn’t help but feel a burgeoning sense of unease. It was as if she had stumbled into a secret chamber and discovered that her boyfriend had been living a double life.”
Now, I know, everyone is swooning over Nick, and I get it. He’s totally swoon worthy. But, can I take a moment and talk about Charlie Wu?! I adore when secondary characters come out of nowhere and steal my heart. And seriously, Charlie, oh, you tragic romantic you. All I know is, that story line better be in the movie or I’m going to be incredibly salty about the entire thing!!!
Days after I finished, I still had Eleanor Young, Rachel Chu, and Astrid Leong (and Charlie 😭😭😭) wandering around my head. I wondered what they were up to, and am literally itching to grab the next book (which I do actually own, I know, don’t start). These are the types of books I love. The ones that transport me to that world. I feel like I need to go to Singapore. That I want to experience the food and the scenery with my own senses. I feel like these characters are friends. That they are real people I can look up and reach out to. I know they’re not, but that’s the magic of literature. That’s the power of great story telling.
Crazy Rich Asians is the perfect book to grab when you need to escape. I usually find this type of immersion in fantasy novels, but honestly, I’m so delighted to find it in a more realistic and contemporary landscape. I am now dying to watch the movie, though I feel I need to put some time between the two experiences. While I’ve heard they’re both fantastic, I don’t want to muddy the waters for either. I have been toying with the idea of doing some book/movie comparison posts, and if I do, this will for sure be one of them.
In all, this book 1000% lived up the hype. If you’ve also been living under a rock (with me) and haven’t picked this gem up, do yourself a favor and read it! I am going to dive back into this world soon, and hope to see more movies coming out in the future. I am also a Kevin Kwan fan for life. If he writes it, I will read it. Or, at least, I will buy it and add it to the precariously oversized TBR I find myself under lately. Good book nerd intentions, and all.