"The Tiger Mom's Tale is a heartfelt, delightful read. Lyn Liao Butler's story of Taiwanese and American identity had me turning pages and laughing (and drooling over the delicious descriptions of food)."—Charles Yu, author of Interior Chinatown, winner of the 2020 National Book Award
Named one of best summer reads by Parade and PopSugar!
When an American woman inherits the wealth of her Taiwanese family, she travels to confront them about their betrayals of the past in this stunning debut by Lyn Liao Butler.
Lexa Thomas has never quite fit in. Having grown up in a family of blondes while more closely resembling Constance Wu, she's neither white enough nor Asian enough. Visiting her father in Taiwan as a child, Lexa thought she'd finally found a place where she belonged. But that was years ago, and even there, some never truly considered her to be a part of the family.
When her estranged father dies unexpectedly, leaving the fate of his Taiwanese family in Lexa's hands, she is faced with the choice to return to Taiwan and claim her place in her heritage . . . or leave her Taiwanese family to lose their home for good. Armed with the advice of two half-sisters (one American and the other Taiwanese, who can't stand each other), a mother who has reevaluated her sexuality, a man whose kisses make her walk into walls, and her self-deprecating humor, Lexa finds the courage to leave the comfort of New York City to finally confront the person who drove her away all those decades ago.
With fond memories of eating through food markets in Taiwan and forming a bond with a sister she never knew she had, Lexa unravels the truth of that last fateful summer and realizes she must stand up for herself and open her heart to forgiveness, or allow the repercussions of her family's choices to forever dictate the path of her life
Butler's riveting debut follows a half-white personal trainer who reconnects with her Taiwanese family after her biological father's death. Thirty-something New Yorker Lexa Thomas learns from her half sister, Hsu-Ling, that their father, Jing Tao, died in an accident. Hsu-Ling tells Lexa that just before the accident, Jing Tao visited his best friend, Pong, on his death bed (Pong was dying from cancer), and that Pong made an apology and confession to Jing Tao involving his role in previous unfair treatment of Lexa by Hsu-Ling's mother, Pin-Yen. Pong then leaves his estate to Lexa under the condition that she returns to Taiwan—and her estranged family—to claim it. While Lexa decides what to do, she and her American half sister contend with their mother's decision to leave their father for another woman, and a series of flashbacks unpack Lexa's fraught relationship with Pin-Yen, who, during Lexa's previous visits to Taiwan, schemed to ensure she wouldn't return. Butler weaves in convincing descriptions of Lexa's navigating of the dating scene and the fetishizing of Asian women, and depicts a fascinatingly complex antagonist in Pin-Yen, who by the end must contend with the effect of her past actions. Butler breathes zesty new life into women's fiction.