Monday, November 12, 2018

Book Review: Family Trust by Kathy Wang

Family Trust
by Kathy Wang

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: William Morrow 
(October 30, 2018)

Some of us are more equal than others....

Meet Stanley Huang: father, husband, ex-husband, man of unpredictable tastes and temper, aficionado of all-inclusive vacations and bargain luxury goods, newly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. For years, Stanley has claimed that he’s worth a small fortune. But the time is now coming when the details of his estate will finally be revealed, and Stanley’s family is nervous.

For his son Fred, the inheritance Stanley has long alluded to would soothe the pain caused by years of professional disappointment. By now, the Harvard Business School graduate had expected to be a financial tech god – not a minor investor at a middling corporate firm, where he isn’t even allowed to fly business class.

Stanley’s daughter, Kate, is a middle manager with one of Silicon Valley’s most prestigious tech companies. She manages the capricious demands of her world-famous boss and the needs of her two young children all while supporting her would-be entrepreneur husband (just until his startup gets off the ground, which will surely be soon). But lately, Kate has been sensing something amiss; just because you say you have it all, it doesn’t mean that you actually do.

Stanley’s second wife, Mary Zhu, twenty-eight years his junior, has devoted herself to making her husband comfortable in every way—rubbing his feet, cooking his favorite dishes, massaging his ego. But lately, her commitment has waned; caring for a dying old man is far more difficult than she expected.

Linda Liang, Stanley’s first wife, knows her ex better than anyone. She worked hard for decades to ensure their financial security, and is determined to see her children get their due. Single for nearly a decade, she might finally be ready for some romantic companionship. But where does a seventy-two-year-old Chinese woman in California go to find an appropriate boyfriend?

As Stanley’s death approaches, the Huangs are faced with unexpected challenges that upend them and eventually lead them to discover what they most value. A compelling tale of cultural expectations, career ambitions and our relationships with the people who know us best, Family Trust skewers the ambition and desires that drive Silicon Valley and draws a sharply loving portrait of modern American family life.

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

Erika didn’t like most ethnic restaurants, and in particular the cheap authentic ones, an admission that in native Bay Area circles was viewed with the same muted horror as Holocaust denial or the use of trans fats.

…her fingers flew past an array of the graying and bald. “Here’s someone I went on a date with last week,” she said. “But he was only interested in, you know, a nurse with a purse.”

Do not speak to her again. Someone like that, you end all communication, immediately. Witches feed off attention. Take away the broom, they can’t fly. All right?

Linda was satisfied to note that Teddy, the alleged future husband of Shirley Chang, was at least the same height if not shorter than Winston and had the same pitch-black pomade hairstyle—it must be a trend with older Asian men, she thought, just like how all the women simultaneously emerged with the same enormous perms after sixty.

My Review:

This book was a bit uneven for me, but maybe it was just flying several levels over my head as I have zero interest in venture capitalism or corporate lifestyles as those topics are more than my tiny brain can comprehend and tends to scorch the little pea inside.  However, I seem to quickly queue up for all the snark and salacious details mined from this unusual family’s tangled secrets and snide inner musings. The storylines were complex and highly nuanced with generous servings of razor-sharp wit and eviscerating observations.  It was well worth wading through the more tedious detritus of their obsessive financial wranglings to get to their peculiar predicaments and curiously confounding choices. They seemed overly driven and nearly consumed with amassing status and money, and how they were being seen while doing so.  The vast majority of this large and oddly intriguing cast of characters were rather vile, although Stanley was full-on heinous.  I was equally repulsed and fascinated, and couldn’t quite seem to get enough or a full grasp of what was transpiring – what does that say about me?  I have not yet read Crazy Rich Asians, and while I really wish I had, I also know I’d actually rather be one.  I was provided a review copy of this clever tale by HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.

Empress DJ

About Kathy Wang

Kathy Wang grew up in Northern California and holds degrees from UC Berkeley and Harvard Business School. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two children. Visit Kathy's website and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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