Crazy Rich Asians Book Review - It's Couture Darling!
by Kevin Kwan
Published in 2013
I kept seeing this book at every bookstore I went to, but because the cover was so plain, I never really thought it would be interesting. Yes I know I broke the cardinal rule, I judged a book by it’s cover but I have to admit that an interesting cover is usually 70% of the reason why I will pick a book. So I decided instead in 2018 to watch the movie that was released because my friend Kimberly said it was awesome and I promised myself that if I liked the movie, then I would purchase the book. The movie was such a fun and perfect summer Rom-Com with such great performances and colorful scenery that next thing I know, I was purchasing all 3 books on my Kindle to further immerse myself in the world of Crazy Rich Asians.
Rachel Chu is a professor of Economics at NYU who is invited by her boyfriend Nick Young another professor at NYU, to go to a wedding in Singapore and meet his family. She was raised by a single mother in California who warns her to be careful in Singapore because she’s going to be seen as Chinese-American, so they might not be completely accepting of her. It isn’t until they are heading to Singapore that Rachel learns that Nick’s family is rich - not just wealthy rich - CRAZY rich. Since he was so humble, she never expected this and is immediately afraid of what his family will think of her while he thinks they will love her just as much as he does. Ah Nick… so naive.
Nick’s mother, Eleanor Young, quickly learns about Nick bringing Rachel to the wedding and begins expressing concerns. She only hangs around the elite of society and wants the best of the best for her son, especially since his grandmother doesn’t like her very much. She hires a private investigator to learn more about Rachel and her family. Astrid Teo lives a life of riches and splendor, which she hides away from her husband so he doesn’t feel like he’s living in her shadow. Her marriage is strained down with the weight of her family’s wealth as he struggles to build a company in order to show her family that he can support her, but always feels it’s never enough. After an incriminating text, she discovers that Michael may be having an affair. Michael later fesses up that he was faking an affair so they could divorce, but decide to work things out after his company gets purchased for an obscene amount of money. Neither of them know that it was Astrid’s old flame, Charlie, that bought the company so that Michael could establish himself and save the marriage even though Charlie still has feelings for her.
As Nick’s mom and Nick’s ex-girlfriends all harass Rachel, she soon begins to crack under the pressure. It isn’t until Nick’s mother and grandmother confront Rachel about her father, who unbeknownst to her is still alive in China, that she decides she can’t be with Nick or his family and stays at her friend’s house for the remainder of her trip. Nick flies out Rachel’s mom to see her in this time so she can be comforted by someone she loves. Her mother tells her that Eleanor was wrong about who her father is because while with her abusive husband, she had an affair with a neighbor who saved her and sent her to California to protect her against the husband. It wasn’t until she was in California that she realized she was pregnant with that neighbor’s child and didn’t want Rachel to know the truth. After this, Rachel reconciles with Nick and they go back to New York happy.
Final Rating & Thoughts: 9/10
I loved reading Crazy Rich Asians! It was one of the best books I had read in 2018. This book was so animated and lively, it felt like I was actually watching it on my TV screen. Kevin Kwan does an EXCELLENT job of bringing this book to life in a way that makes each and every character so interesting and unique. It almost didn’t even feel like they were books characters, but instead my (crazy rich) friends living it up in Singapore because he managed to make so many of them very likeable and relatable. It seems unlikely that me and my negative millions could relate to someone with millions of dollars and the hottest couture, but Kevin Kwan really works on his development of their character and their values. Even for those that aren’t completely relatable, he writes some of the most extravagant and outrageous characters that are just hilarious to read about.
What I love about Crazy Rich Asians is that it beautifully combines humor with serious moments like choosing family over love. I think this was such an interesting theme to read about because even though we know rich people prefer to be around and marry other rich people, you can’t help but feel shocked when you see that Rachel has been nothing but loving and loyal to Nick and yet that’s not enough because her name carries no weight in their world. It is difficult to read Nick trying to decide between Rachel and his mother when it shouldn’t even be a decision he has to make. I also love reading about the more humble in the family like Astrid who has all the wealth in the world, yet tries to become a wallflower so she doesn’t attract attention. When you are caught up in this world of glamour, I can imagine being this humble makes you stick out even more.
I also love the battle between old money and new money and how in their world it doesn’t always come down to money than it does prestige. The Young family is the elite of the elite, everyone in China knows who they are even if they will never visit their esteemed home. They live in a world that is just as political as it is glamorous with them having to be seen as wealthy and powerful, but never as flashy or gaudy. Overall, this really is one of the most fun reads I have read in awhile. I am only sad that there are only 3 books in this series and not like 10. Here’s to hoping Kevin Kwan answers my prayers and writes more in the series!