Listen to the Squawking Chicken

Listen to the Squawking Chicken

When Mother Knows Best, What's A Daughter to Do? : A Memoir (sort Of)

Book - 2014
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Most people think I'm exaggerating at first when I talk about the Chinese Squawking Chicken. But once they actually spend some time with her, they understand. They get it. Right away. She's Chinese, she squawks like a chicken, she is totally nuts, and I am totally dependent on her.

When Elaine Lui was growing up, her mother told her, "Why do you need to prepare for the good things that happen? They're good. They won't hurt you. My job is to prepare you for the hard times, and teach you how to avoid them, whenever possible." Neither traditionally Eastern nor conventionally Western, the Squawking Chicken raised her daughter drawing on Chinese fortune-telling, feng shui blackmail, good old-fashioned ghost stories, and shame and embarrassment in equal measure. And despite years of chafing against her mother's parenting style, Elaine came to recognize the hidden wisdom--and immeasurable value--in her rather unorthodox upbringing.

Listen to the Squawking Chicken lays bare the playbook of unusual advice and warnings used to teach Elaine about hard work ("Miss Hong Kong is a whore"), humility ("I should have given birth to a piece of barbecue pork"), love and friendship, family loyalty ("Where's my money?"), style and deportment ("Don't be low classy"), finding one's own voice ("Walk like an elephant, squawk like a chicken") among other essentials. Along the way, Elaine poignantly reveals how her mother earned the nickname "Tsiahng Gai" or "squawking chicken" growing up in Hong Kong, enduring and rising from the ashes of her own hard times.

Listen to the Squawking Chicken is a loving mother-daughter memoir that will have readers laughing out loud, gasping in shock, and reconsidering the honesty and guts it takes to be a parent.

Publisher: Toronto : Random House Canada, 2014
ISBN: 9780345813473
Branch Call Number: 306.8743 LUI NVD
Characteristics: 223 p. : ill. ; 24 cm


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Feb 14, 2017

I gained a much better appreciation for the subtle differences between the Caucasian/Asian cultures through reading this book. I grew up in Calgary and had a Chinese girlfriend. I always wondered why she couldn't join me (and other friends) after school. I knew that her parents insisted that she do homework (even though we weren't assigned any extra work). I also now have a much better understanding of Feng Shui and how it governs its believers' lives. It feels very similar to Karma. I enjoyed Lainey's storytelling abilities, and her complete honesty in sharing both the good and the bad parts of life. I find that, when I read a story that leaves out the bad, it doesn't feel real.

Jul 05, 2016

A very funny and well-written memoir about an all consuming mother/daughter bond. Although my upbringing was very different, I found the stories about Lainey's mother entertaining, moving and relatable. I also felt a great deal of affection for the woman, despite her shortcomings.

Apr 14, 2015

Love the profanity! Asian girls are not all sweet quiet little dolls. Lui's colourful writing kept me engaged. I can appreciate Lui's mom as a lot of kids today are overly praised for the stupidest little achievements. This sets them up to become self-entitled and unable to cope with problems during their adult life. Lui's mom may be extreme but there are lots of little nuggets of wisdom from this street- wise firecracker.

Sep 29, 2014

Loved it!!! I want to buy it !

May 28, 2014

Lainey Lui has written a tender and loving tribute to her mother that is also brutally honest and critical. The stark contrast between Lainey's upbringing and the over-praised special princesses we see around us is food for thought about how we are preparing young girls for their place in the world. Well done Ma and Lainey Lui!

May 09, 2014

i worked for an oriental employer for many years and i can just see this happening in their family with their children etc.......a really good read and laughed out loud many many times!


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Jun 24, 2016

Her life as growing up with an asian mother

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