The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling | Review

I am an absolute sucker for dumplings, like…I cannot say no to them. SOOOO I pre-ordered this book before I had even read the blurb. Partially because of the title, and partially because I had seen Wai Chim interview Lili Wilkinson (author of After The Lights Go Out which I loved) at YA Fanfast last year.

Safe to say it might be the best pre-order I’ve ever made…


Anna Chiu has her hands pretty full looking after her brother and sister and helping out at her dad’s restaurant, all while her mum stays in bed. Dad’s new delivery boy, Rory, is a welcome distraction and even though she knows that things aren’t right at home, she’s starting to feel like she could just be a normal teen.

But when Mum finally gets out of bed, things go from bad to worse. And as Mum’s condition worsens, Anna and her family question everything they understand about themselves and each other.

A nourishing tale about the crevices of culture, mental wellness and family.

Blurb from Book Depository.


I have to say, I adored this book. It’s always refreshing to read a contemporary YA that doesn’t buy in to the standard tropes and clichés that so often plague the genre. Chim has managed to craft a story that leaves you satisfied, but without having everything tied up in a perfect little bow (because when, in life, is this ever really the case?).

Something I particularly enjoyed about this book was the exploration of the subtle (and not-so-subtle) racism prevalent in Australian society. I loved Rory introducing the term ‘micro-aggression’ to Anna, and I’ll fully admit that I hadn’t heard the term before and totally related to Anna’s penny-drop moment when she learnt of it!


It was also interesting to see this alongside the way Chim portrays the Chinese-Australian culture and the expectations that come with this on children in the family, particularly when the book deals so heavily with mental illness and psychosis. There were scenes in this book that absolutely broke my heart, and I could feel the weight of Anna and Lily’s emotion sitting in my gut as I read.

This book is one that I cannot recommend highly enough. The characters are beautifully written, and your heart will pound along with them through the good and the bad. There is, of course a romantic storymline as well but Chim smashes the YA tropes with this, refusing to make it an insta-love story (ick) and balances it with the larger themes of the story so the romance never usurps the arguably much more important issues this book tackles.

I don’t have enough stars to give it. 11 out of 10 stars from me – grab a copy ASAP!


Read if: You’re looking for a quick but hearty read.

Page Length: 325

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

What was the last book that made you want to stay up through the night to read?

M xx

Buy ‘The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling’ here on Book Depository

Buy ‘The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling’ here on Booktopia (AU/NZ only) – Use code ENJOY19 until August 27th for FREE DELIVERY

3 thoughts on “The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling | Review

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