'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 15 February 2021

Review: Tiger Daughter

Brilliant and enthralling, this superb, deeply moving novel by the multi-talented Rebecca Lim, examines the lives of two migrant families; the internal worlds of each character, and the chaos that trying to fit in brings to each character’s life.

Wen and Henry are best friends. They face similar challenges. Having come from China to Australia as migrants, they are both marginalised to a degree. Henry lives over the bridge from Wen in the poorer part of town because that’s what his family is, common people.

But Henry is rich in knowledge and ambition. He is confident, and a top student, despite his poor English, with which Wen is helping him so he can pass his exams that will get him a scholarship to a better life. Wen is also sitting for the same exam, but for a different outcome.

Henry’s mother doesn’t speak any English. She spends all day seeped in lonely sadness, watching Chinese language TV, ignoring the needs of her family. His dad drives a fruit truck to pay the rent.

Wen’s family life is a nightmare. Her father despises her because she is not a son. He was a highly respected Emergency Department doctor in his homeland. Here, regardless of his impressive credentials, he cannot pass his exams due to language barriers, so works in a restaurant to feed his family.

His anger and shame have transformed him into an abusive, hateful person with rules and regulations for his wife whom he has silenced with his anger, and his daughter whom he calls worthless, lazy, stupid, small and insolent. They have no interaction with the world past their front door except for purchasing food, and Wen must be accompanied by her mother to school and back. They live on the lip of a volcano that could erupt any time.

When tragedy strikes Henry and his father, they shut themselves away. Disregarding all fears and retribution from her father, Wen convinces her mother that they must care for her friends. They have no misconceptions about what will happen if or when her father finds out. But something must change.

Beautifully written with insight and authenticity, this thought-provoking book carries many messages. It reflects the lives of many migrants and their struggles to become part of a better life, and the personal cost for this privilege. A Must Read for this year!

Title: Tiger Daughter
Author: Rebecca Lim  
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, $16.99
Publication Date: 2 February 2021
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760877644
For ages: 11 – 14
Type: Junior Fiction