Review: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

tiger.mother Dear Tiger Mama,

We're both academics, so let's cut each other a little slack here, no? You write like the litigious academic that you are, building your case, providing evidence, then throwing the 1-2 punch. I write like an instructor of the humanities, finding symbolism in everything, reaching for parallels that are probably too far of a stretch. It's fair to say you and I are different in a lot of ways (see also: religion, culture, competitive tendencies) but I think the fact that we both have half-Asian daughters and pursue work in the Ivory Tower offers us some common ground.

I assigned your book to my English Composition I class as a means of pushing through our spring semester. I usually lose my students after spring break (like, literally, I stop seeing them) and I knew your much-hyped book would capture their attention and maybe even help some of their grades. You did not disappoint me, Tiger Mama.

I had many Asian students in my class. A couple from South Korea, China. They piped up when we discussed your book. I was concerned that they would feel hushed given the rage that your book can inspire by those not raised by Tiger Mothers. But my Asian students did not demur. I was proud of them.

One line that our class discussion kept straddling was one that I, too, had trouble crossing. I found your book especially challenging in terms of separating the body of work put forth with the philosophies espoused. Was it a good book? Did I like it? These two questions are so intertwined in reading Tiger Mother. The religion of Chinese motherdom was so painful for me to read, but it was so richly presented that I couldn't help blitz through this. The voices of your daughters and husband seemed so marginalized until the end that I couldn't help but find this a "design flaw" in the writing. But maybe that's all just because I share your goal-orientedness when it comes to parenting. I have goals and fairly clear outcomes that I seek for my children. I wanted to know how this all "turned out" for you and given that your daughter Sophia has accepted her admission ticket to Harvard, I'll be interested to chart the journey that she's charting over on her blog.

I'm pretty sure we wouldn't be friends, Tiger Mother, since it would appear you haven't had much time for friend-making in between rehearsals and lectures, but I think you would be one awesome interview. Maybe our paths will cross at some kind of Raising Half-Asian Kids conference. I'll be the white lady standing by the cookies if you ever want to talk.

Yours, Shamrock Mother