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The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons, and My Crazy Chinese Family

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In this jaw-dropping, darkly comedic memoir, a young woman comes of age in a dysfunctional Asian family whose members blamed their woes on ghosts and demons when in fact they should have been on anti-psychotic meds. Lindsay Wong grew up with a paranoid schizophrenic grandmother and a mother who was deeply afraid of the "woo-woo"--Chinese ghosts who come to visit in times of In this jaw-dropping, darkly comedic memoir, a young woman comes of age in a dysfunctional Asian family whose members blamed their woes on ghosts and demons when in fact they should have been on anti-psychotic meds. Lindsay Wong grew up with a paranoid schizophrenic grandmother and a mother who was deeply afraid of the "woo-woo"--Chinese ghosts who come to visit in times of personal turmoil. From a young age, she witnessed the woo-woo's sinister effects; at the age of six, she found herself living in the food court of her suburban mall, which her mother saw as a safe haven because they could hide there from dead people, and on a camping trip, her mother tried to light Lindsay's foot on fire to rid her of the woo-woo. The eccentricities take a dark turn, however, when her aunt, suffering from a psychotic breakdown, holds the city of Vancouver hostage for eight hours when she threatens to jump off a bridge. And when Lindsay herself starts to experience symptoms of the woo-woo herself, she wonders whether she will suffer the same fate as her family. On one hand a witty and touching memoir about the Asian immigrant experience, and on the other a harrowing and honest depiction of the vagaries of mental illness, The Woo-Woo is a gut-wrenching and beguiling manual for surviving family, and oneself.


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In this jaw-dropping, darkly comedic memoir, a young woman comes of age in a dysfunctional Asian family whose members blamed their woes on ghosts and demons when in fact they should have been on anti-psychotic meds. Lindsay Wong grew up with a paranoid schizophrenic grandmother and a mother who was deeply afraid of the "woo-woo"--Chinese ghosts who come to visit in times of In this jaw-dropping, darkly comedic memoir, a young woman comes of age in a dysfunctional Asian family whose members blamed their woes on ghosts and demons when in fact they should have been on anti-psychotic meds. Lindsay Wong grew up with a paranoid schizophrenic grandmother and a mother who was deeply afraid of the "woo-woo"--Chinese ghosts who come to visit in times of personal turmoil. From a young age, she witnessed the woo-woo's sinister effects; at the age of six, she found herself living in the food court of her suburban mall, which her mother saw as a safe haven because they could hide there from dead people, and on a camping trip, her mother tried to light Lindsay's foot on fire to rid her of the woo-woo. The eccentricities take a dark turn, however, when her aunt, suffering from a psychotic breakdown, holds the city of Vancouver hostage for eight hours when she threatens to jump off a bridge. And when Lindsay herself starts to experience symptoms of the woo-woo herself, she wonders whether she will suffer the same fate as her family. On one hand a witty and touching memoir about the Asian immigrant experience, and on the other a harrowing and honest depiction of the vagaries of mental illness, The Woo-Woo is a gut-wrenching and beguiling manual for surviving family, and oneself.

30 review for The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons, and My Crazy Chinese Family

  1. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    I started laughing. I couldn't stop giggling because I wasn't what my family termed Woo-Woo: I was only medically damaged – the spirits that have plagued my Chinese family for years be damned. Thank God. I was a freak with terrible, mutinous genes, but at least I was not turning into my permanently sad mother, my suicidal auntie Beautiful One, or my maternal grandmother, Poh-Poh. When author Lindsay Wong was a twenty-one-year-old MFA student at Columbia University, she finally received a diagno I started laughing. I couldn't stop giggling because I wasn't what my family termed Woo-Woo: I was only medically damaged – the spirits that have plagued my Chinese family for years be damned. Thank God. I was a freak with terrible, mutinous genes, but at least I was not turning into my permanently sad mother, my suicidal auntie Beautiful One, or my maternal grandmother, Poh-Poh. When author Lindsay Wong was a twenty-one-year-old MFA student at Columbia University, she finally received a diagnosis for the vertigo/hallucinations/fatigue that had been plaguing her for years: Migraine-Associated Vestibulopathy. Despite learning that she had a chronic debilitating neurological disorder (which her doctor warned would likely prevent her from reading or writing for the rest of her life), Wong was relieved that she could now prove that she wasn't suffering from “Woo-Woo”: the ghosts that her Chinese-Canadian family blamed for every disappointment, instance of bad luck, or psychological disorder that seemed to haunt their clan. After introducing her story in this way in her memoir The Woo-Woo, Wong then goes on to describe her childhood growing up in the affluent Westwood Plateau neighbourhood of what I assume to be Richmond, B.C.; nicknamed “The Poteau” for all of the grow-ops and meth labs run out of neighbouring McMansions. And what a miserable childhood it sounds like: Her mother had undiagnosed psychological problems, which caused her to act in irrational and dangerous ways, and her emotionally distant father only interacted with his children to demand perfection at school and piano and sports; usually referring to his eldest daughter, Lindsay, as Fatty or The Retard. Lindsay herself learned to become emotionally walled off (both of her parents believed that crying would “let the ghosts in” and Lindsay did everything she could to avoid sporadic “exorcisms”, which might even involve lighting her on fire), and she became a binge eater, a bully at school, and a terrible friend and sister (she has been estranged from both of her siblings for years, and just recently reconnected with her brother). While this book is described as “darkly comic”, I really just found it all kind of sad – made more sad by Wong's emotionally distant tone. I'm quoting at length to give a sense of that: Moaning like an undead cartoon monster, my mother fed us candy for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner but would forget to brush our hair and did not scold us for not cleaning our yellow-spattered teeth. In our family, a mother was someone who made sure her children were never hungry, and she tried as much as she mentally could. But at that point, fed up with our life in the court, I saw that my mother had been born with a heart the size of one of my doll's shoes and would have benefited from some family downsizing – like maybe if it were only me. Besides, even though I was only six going on seven, I didn't think I had ever been a baby or a toddler because of the famous Wong family procreation myth, delivered with the also famous Wong half-funny-half-cruel-all-too-confusing-to-untangle wit, which explained that my parents had fished me out of a downtown Dumpster. “That's why you're garbage,” my father would explain, boasting that my origin story was extraordinarily funny. “All garbage have low IQ. Not like Daddy at all. I'm very, very smart because I'm from library.” “Then why you get me from Dumpster?” I had asked once after starting elementary school, speaking in a churlish, babyish Chinglish. Being sensitive yet spacey, I took his every word at hurtful, no-bullshit face value. “It's free,” my father declared, sounding sombre. “You think we want to pay money for you? Mommy and I know how to save money on unimportant things.” “Why I not important?” I said, sad and a bit resentful. “Because you are from garbage.” That was my father's typical response, a robotic, jokey, unhelpful statement that drove my mother absolutely batshit; it was characteristic of him to carelessly wave a hemorrhaging red cape at a rabid bull, for my mother did not understand humour or indirectness. How they met and married is still a complete mystery to me. It was never once spoken about in our family and deemed irrelevant and irritating as small talk. “I found your Mommy in garbage can,” my father joked when I asked. “What she doing there?” I said. “Just like you, no one want her. Like Mommy, like daughter.” Near the end of the book, Wong writes, “No one would ever believe me if I told them about all the wondrous and terrible and fantastical things that had happened to me”, yet this is that story: bizarre coincidences, family members who make the national news, actually suffering a neurological disorder after a lifetime of being told by superstitious parents that she was weak-minded and prone to Woo-Woo possession. But it's also a book about abuse and the cloistering effects of an immigrant community – neither the kids nor the adults thrived in this large extended family, and no one on the outside seemed to intervene; and I found the whole thing sad. Based on her diagnosis, it seems heroic that Wong completed her MFA in Creative Nonfiction – but now that her family's story is told, I wonder what other stories she has; wonder what tone she would bring to topics that don't have the power to hurt her.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sierra Gemma

    This is a great book about family, abuse, and mental health. It is a dark, dark, dark comedy. I think the subtitle (no doubt chosen by the publisher and not the author) makes the book seem like it is going to be more about hockey and drug raids than it is. I'm guessing the publisher wanted a subtitle that they thought might sell more copies. I hope it works because this is the kind of fantastic memoir that is hard to summarize in such a way that makes it sound as enjoyable as it was. Like if I w This is a great book about family, abuse, and mental health. It is a dark, dark, dark comedy. I think the subtitle (no doubt chosen by the publisher and not the author) makes the book seem like it is going to be more about hockey and drug raids than it is. I'm guessing the publisher wanted a subtitle that they thought might sell more copies. I hope it works because this is the kind of fantastic memoir that is hard to summarize in such a way that makes it sound as enjoyable as it was. Like if I were to describe the book, I would call it a dark memoir about how mental illness is impacted by culture and vice versa. That doesn't sound like something you would want to read, but actually it is! This book is definitely up there in the Top 10 best memoirs I've read, along with Angela's Ashes, The Glass Castle, Running with Scissors, and Lucky. It is an unforgettable book about a girl who grew up without any of the emotional and physical kindnesses that we assume children will receive from their parents, but instead with physical and verbal abuse and emotional and intellectual neglect, and yet the author figures out—surely, but very slowly—how to become a person. There is a great line from the book that I think sums it up quite perfectly: "I could not have made up this anecdotal horror production if I tried." As someone who also came from a really rough background, this was the perfect description for how I feel about my own childhood!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Laleh

    It must have taken Lindsay Wong a great amount of courage to write this story. It is not easy to talk about mental illness and to reveal yours and your family's demons- woo woos- to the entire world to judge. I found quite a few repeating passages and parts that could have been edited out.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Will

    “Between my mother’s hysterics and the uncertainty of my illness, I couldn’t help but believe that I had fallen into madness.” This book reads like an endless number of user-submitted stories to a February issue of Reader’s Digest. Wong does not give reason as to why she is airing her family grievances in a book – did she grow from it? Learn? Anything? I am also sad to say that it does not contain a likeable narrator – she jumps into her memory with shocking lucidity… and specificity… it makes yo “Between my mother’s hysterics and the uncertainty of my illness, I couldn’t help but believe that I had fallen into madness.” This book reads like an endless number of user-submitted stories to a February issue of Reader’s Digest. Wong does not give reason as to why she is airing her family grievances in a book – did she grow from it? Learn? Anything? I am also sad to say that it does not contain a likeable narrator – she jumps into her memory with shocking lucidity… and specificity… it makes you wonder what is concocted and what isn’t in this “memoir.” Ostensibly, The Woo-Woo is about one girl’s absurd upbringing and her quirky family. Ultimately, it comes off as wholly insensitive: to mental health, to culture, and to the craft of the memoir. Wong’s book lacks that: craft. It tries to be funny. But it’s not. It tries to be shocking. But it’s not. What it does end up being is a slimy, cobbled-together motley of memories/anecdotes. And it quite simply does not make for good literature. There is sadly nothing resembling any sort of nuance. Instead, it reflects a crusade of petty, mean revenge. The author has an MFA in literary nonfiction from Columbia University – it is a shame to see that this came out of it. We miss the character, colour, and class that a solid nonfiction – memoir or not – usually embodies. I usually love the stuff that Arsenal produces, but this falls below their standard of work. I spotted a few too many typos and editorial mistakes to give it a thumbs-up in that regard. And even then, it must have been a muddled editing process with the sheer amount of poorly written, poorly constructed paragraphs present in these pages. It reinforces nasty stereotypes, drags like a soap opera past its prime, and is just a letdown overall. “I felt betrayed in an outsized, abstract way that I could not explain.”

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alexis

    This is a great memoir about growing up in a Chinese family with mental health issues. There's a lot of dark humour involved, and Lindsay Wong, the author, doesn't pull any punches and shows the dark side of what has happened in her family. However, as someone who suffers mental health issues myself, I found some parts of this really hard to read. I'm glad it was written and I hope more people read it. I think it's a very important story.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Savannah

    Mostly, I’m just glad to be done reading this book. It felt extremely disconnected, which reading it does make sense that it would be that way. It also was only emotional in a weirdly reflective way? For such an emotional book with so many crazy things happening it just felt flat.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Virginia Van

    A touching and darkly humorous memoir about growing up in a Canadian Chinese family in "Hongcouver" which blames their psychiatric woes on ghosts and demons known as "the woo-woos, from her mother, who sees camping in a Walmart parking lot as the only safe haven to escape the spirits of the dead, to a beloved psychotic aunt who holds Vancouver hostage for eight hours when she threatens to jump off a bridge. Wong manages to escape to New York to do a MFA at Columbia when she fears the woo-woos ar A touching and darkly humorous memoir about growing up in a Canadian Chinese family in "Hongcouver" which blames their psychiatric woes on ghosts and demons known as "the woo-woos, from her mother, who sees camping in a Walmart parking lot as the only safe haven to escape the spirits of the dead, to a beloved psychotic aunt who holds Vancouver hostage for eight hours when she threatens to jump off a bridge. Wong manages to escape to New York to do a MFA at Columbia when she fears the woo-woos are coming for her too. For fans of the "So you think your life is shit..." genre of memoir a la "Glass Castle" and "Educated".

  8. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    As a fellow Asian Vancouverite who comes from a large and very close extended Asian family, I mildly enjoyed this memoir. The writing is crude, salty and brash, quite unlike any of the other books that are shortlisted for Canada Reads 2019; often I questioned if I was laughing because it was funny, or because the most callous uses of profanity and verbal abuse (the norm in this family) were being spouted so flippantly between the characters. Then again, who am I to judge the author's recollectio As a fellow Asian Vancouverite who comes from a large and very close extended Asian family, I mildly enjoyed this memoir. The writing is crude, salty and brash, quite unlike any of the other books that are shortlisted for Canada Reads 2019; often I questioned if I was laughing because it was funny, or because the most callous uses of profanity and verbal abuse (the norm in this family) were being spouted so flippantly between the characters. Then again, who am I to judge the author's recollections of verbal exchanges between her and her family members. My major issue with this book is that it is fairly one-note, with characters well-defined, but under developed. Coming from a large and often highly emotionally charged Asian family, I understand that there are the words that are actually uttered, and there is also the underlying and unspoken subtext, the history and the emotion that infuses the conversation and the silences between them. I wanted to understand more of that subtext, so that I could better understand the journey this family takes together while dealing with multiple cases of mental illness. Towards the end of the book, there is sequence where Lindsay's father, at a crucial juncture, does something quite out of character, which she recognizes right away and is not quite sure how to interpret it. I loved that sequence, but I felt it was a little too late, as if a caricature had instantly transformed into a real person. I was disappointed that I wasn't given the opportunity to learn more about this person and his complicated relationship with his daughter in the preceding two hundred pages.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jessie

    Memoirs are hard to review. I feel weird and out of place reviewing and rating someones life. When I rate and review memoirs it is more about if I had a good time reading the book, did the story move me, the writing style...I try very hard not to judge the choices the authors make in memoirs, it is their life, not mine and therefore I am not allowed to "rate" it. So the Woo Woo, based on my 3 star review basically means I had an alright time reading this, the writing was okay and Wong's story di Memoirs are hard to review. I feel weird and out of place reviewing and rating someones life. When I rate and review memoirs it is more about if I had a good time reading the book, did the story move me, the writing style...I try very hard not to judge the choices the authors make in memoirs, it is their life, not mine and therefore I am not allowed to "rate" it. So the Woo Woo, based on my 3 star review basically means I had an alright time reading this, the writing was okay and Wong's story did keep me interested. This book is by far the most chaotic I've ever read. Lindsay Wong writes about her life growing up in Vancouver British Columbia, Canada and how her family didn't believe in mental illness. With a severely depressed and paranoid mother, a schizophrenic grandmother and a father who told her how useless she was, Lindsay Wong tells us the story of how she survived this mess. I don't think I would recommend everyone go out and read this novel. It is sad. It made me angry at times. It is clear that is a story of what happens when mental health issues/diseases are not taken care of. Often described as "darkly comedic", I did find some things funny but mostly the book really disturbed me. Although this book and the fact that it exists is proof that you aren't always the product of your upbringing. Lindsay should be proud of herself for going against her family grain and showing the world the dark side of mental illness in her story.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tracey Macleod

    3.5 ⭐ This book reminded me of The Glass Castle and Educated. *CBC Canada Reads book 3.5 ⭐️ This book reminded me of The Glass Castle and Educated. *CBC Canada Reads book

  11. 5 out of 5

    Duncan McCurdie

    I don't read many memoirs by non famous people as I have the impression/worry that they are going to be either misery drenched or rags to riches gloating. However The Woo Woo is a delightful rebuttal to my prejudice. What makes this memoir so good is Lindsay Wong's writing, it is much much funnier, albeit acerbic and caustically, than you would ever imagine from a basic description of the events and themes discussed. I'm not sure I would have picked up this book had it not been part of Canada Re I don't read many memoirs by non famous people as I have the impression/worry that they are going to be either misery drenched or rags to riches gloating. However The Woo Woo is a delightful rebuttal to my prejudice. What makes this memoir so good is Lindsay Wong's writing, it is much much funnier, albeit acerbic and caustically, than you would ever imagine from a basic description of the events and themes discussed. I'm not sure I would have picked up this book had it not been part of Canada Reads and for me this is exactly what makes Canada Reads worthwhile.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    This book is written with a dark, frequently cruel humor. This seems to be the authors way of handling memories of her neglectful and at times downright abusive upbringing. It couldn’t have been that bad if it’s funny right? Right?? This style of writing will likely be off putting to many readers. There is no sensitivity or empathy here for the many mentally ill people in the authors life but there is a shocking honesty in how the author expresses her frustration, embarrassment, and anger at her This book is written with a dark, frequently cruel humor. This seems to be the authors way of handling memories of her neglectful and at times downright abusive upbringing. It couldn’t have been that bad if it’s funny right? Right?? This style of writing will likely be off putting to many readers. There is no sensitivity or empathy here for the many mentally ill people in the authors life but there is a shocking honesty in how the author expresses her frustration, embarrassment, and anger at her family’s issues.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Eryn Prince

    The most beautiful and heartbreaking nuances in this memoir come from the narrator’s unflinching honesty. I believe that some people take issue with the fact that the author dictates her experiences in a way that doesn’t always paint her as the heroine of her own story, but what they are missing is the beauty of that authenticity. If you’re looking for a read that satisfies you in the predictable way that a novel does then this book will not suit you. Life is messy and brutal and real. It doesn’t The most beautiful and heartbreaking nuances in this memoir come from the narrator’s unflinching honesty. I believe that some people take issue with the fact that the author dictates her experiences in a way that doesn’t always paint her as the heroine of her own story, but what they are missing is the beauty of that authenticity. If you’re looking for a read that satisfies you in the predictable way that a novel does then this book will not suit you. Life is messy and brutal and real. It doesn’t always come to a climax and then spin lazily into perfectly wrapped up happily ever afters. Lindsay Wong’s upbringings, her entire life, was existing on constant high alert. With the dial constantly up to ten the only point beyond that is breaking. I love this book for its honesty and bravery. To tell the story of a familial history of undiagnosed mental illness and the effects it has generationally, is so very necessary and I commend the author for speaking her truth as she lives it, in the midst of it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Vontel

    Challenging book to read, raw & sad although fairly well written, with some personal hope by the end. Good for a more thorough description of fairly recent wave Chinese immigrants, particularly sparked in the Vancouver area by the imminent return of Hong Kong to China in the 1990s. The book would have benefited from some more editing, given the endless repetition and description of more traditional Chinese cultural attitudes toward mental illness & expressions of emotions & of behavi Challenging book to read, raw & sad although fairly well written, with some personal hope by the end. Good for a more thorough description of fairly recent wave Chinese immigrants, particularly sparked in the Vancouver area by the imminent return of Hong Kong to China in the 1990s. The book would have benefited from some more editing, given the endless repetition and description of more traditional Chinese cultural attitudes toward mental illness & expressions of emotions & of behaviours arising out of undiagnosed/untreated mental illnesses, and particularly within her own immediate & extended family. The Woo-Woo was nominated for the Hilary Weston Prize for non-fiction in 2018. In some ways, this first novel reminds me of Evelyn Lau's early books.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    The Woo-Woo: How I survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raid, Demons and My Crazy Chinese Family, a daring piece of non-fiction on the subject of mental illness, tells the story of a dysfunctional immigrant Chinese family in Vancouver. The protagonist Lindsay survives through a childhood where she battles with a grandmother who is paranoid schizophrenic, a mother who lives in fear of demons and a father who belittles his children continuously. The Woo Woo is Lindsay Wong’s first novel. The book starts with The Woo-Woo: How I survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raid, Demons and My Crazy Chinese Family, a daring piece of non-fiction on the subject of mental illness, tells the story of a dysfunctional immigrant Chinese family in Vancouver. The protagonist Lindsay survives through a childhood where she battles with a grandmother who is paranoid schizophrenic, a mother who lives in fear of demons and a father who belittles his children continuously. The Woo Woo is Lindsay Wong’s first novel. The book starts with Lindsay, a fine arts student, being relieved to find that she has an actual physical illness and is not mentally ill like her grandmother or invaded by the evil demons like her mother. In a flashback, Lindsay takes us back to when she is a very young girl living in a drug-dealing neighbourhood with her dysfunctional family. Her Mother takes her and her siblings to the mall all day long so that they can keep walking and out maneuver the evil demons or “Woo-Woo” who are trying to invade their bodies. Her father pays her to beat up her opponents during hockey games and constantly tells her that she is dumb so she will need to know how to be tough to ward off the Woo-Woo. I do admire Lindsay for writing a book like this and I hope it is rather soothing for her to do so. For me it is too depressing. Having experience with mental illness in my family I find no humour in it at all and for that reason I find this book to be a difficult read. There is a lot of repetition in the book and I feel it can be improved greatly with some strict editing. I cannot recommend this book to most readers but I do see that it provides some insight into what families dealing with mental illness have to cope with on a day to say basis. I give it a 3 on 5.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    I can only hope that the Canada Reads panel provides me with insight about why this book is so extraordinary. I feel for Wong's emotionally-charged childhood, and the constant presence of mental illness in her family, but the writing is choppy, and there are way too many descriptors or metaphors or examples or on and on and on (someone needs to edit it!). I struggled to read it. Before the Epilogue, it ENDS thus: (view spoiler)["I felt that I had not been entirely Chosen by the Woo-Woo, and I was I can only hope that the Canada Reads panel provides me with insight about why this book is so extraordinary. I feel for Wong's emotionally-charged childhood, and the constant presence of mental illness in her family, but the writing is choppy, and there are way too many descriptors or metaphors or examples or on and on and on (someone needs to edit it!). I struggled to read it. Before the Epilogue, it ENDS thus: (view spoiler)["I felt that I had not been entirely Chosen by the Woo-Woo, and I was somewhat safe for now. So I slipped off my shoes, removed my jacket and belt, and watched them float, as if by sheet miraculous gravitation, past me on the conveyor belt." (hide spoiler)] Thus it BEGINS in a Prologue: "'Miss Wong, you are seriously ill,' the neurologist in a midtown office said, preparing me a sympathy tissue. But I was dry-eyed and benignly frosty, my way of responding to shitty news. It wasn't like me to fake a ladylike smile, or even to cry."

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joanne MacNevin

    I found this book difficult to read. The subject matter was difficult, and, as much as I don't like to say this about an autobiographical work of non-fiction, the characters were very unlikeable and therefore made for hard reading. There were a lot of sections in this book where I could barely stand to read the dialogue between characters because they were so mean to one another. One thing I would have liked more of in the book is how she managed to persevere and get a degree with such a debilit I found this book difficult to read. The subject matter was difficult, and, as much as I don't like to say this about an autobiographical work of non-fiction, the characters were very unlikeable and therefore made for hard reading. There were a lot of sections in this book where I could barely stand to read the dialogue between characters because they were so mean to one another. One thing I would have liked more of in the book is how she managed to persevere and get a degree with such a debilitating illness. The narrator is obviously strong and resilient, but in this book, she paints herself, persistently, as angry and mean. A little more on her battle and subsequent success would have been interesting. I only read this book because it is a Canada Reads contender.

  18. 5 out of 5

    C

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It's mind boggling how dysfunctional Wong's family is. I read the whole thing in a state of morbid fascination. I can't imagine people treating others this way, never mind family. Also a window into life with mental illness while purposefully avoiding all medical help.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    I'm not sure what inspired the author to write about her odious family but it is neither interesting nor entertaining.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Poorly written, mean, and vulgar. Also, although I'm sure there is a kernel of truth in this memoir, it reeked of exaggeration and hyperbole. I guess that's what was supposed to make it "witty"? It's a shame this book was selected for Canada Reads.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jessie-Ann

    I've seen Lindsay Wong speak twice about this book and thus had very high hopes for it and I was still blown away. Wong is a masterful storyteller; it reads like fiction, and seems like it must be fiction. (But I don't think you could get away with writing fiction like this - everyone would say "come on, that would never happen"). Wong was apparently rejected by something like 8 publishers for this book - I'm glad she stuck it out; I'm so glad I was able to read it!

  22. 5 out of 5

    PattyFaulkner

    This is my book 4 of 5 of Canada reads I struggled with this book mental abuse mental illness books to move you is the theme this book left me sad struggled to finish

  23. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I had to keep reminding myself that this book was not fiction. It is astounding that Lindsay grew up to be a successful writer given the childhood she endured surrounded by family with mental illness. She was also verbally abused and not cared for properly. Absolutely incredible story that demonstrates the determination and suffering one can endure to become a productive and successful adult. This book definitely encompasses the theme of Canada Reads 2019, a book that makes you feel.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Victor Gallant

    We live in a Facebook world. Tell me a story, please.I

  25. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    Difficult subject matter. I found myself laughing and then realizing what this woman lived through isn't exactly funny. There is an edge of "snark" to the writing, and I do ask myself, how is she really? But, one thing for sure is that you never really know what goes on in someone's life behind closed doors.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    A stressful and fascinating read. I've never wanted a work on non-fiction to be fiction so bad.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Loewen

    Fascinating and dark.

  28. 5 out of 5

    George Ilsley

    Some stories are stranger than fiction. This one is a story of resilience, and survival, and can be overwhelming to read. There is a lot to process here -- and this reading experience must be just a tiny glimmer of what the author experienced in her upbringing.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lea Taranto

    I wanted to like this book. I really really fucking did. But as a Chinese Canadian woman with woo woo, I related more to characters the author abhors like her Poh Poh than to the author herself. I cannot begin to imagine the kind of abuse the author went through and know that her dark humour is a way to cope with having never been shown the kind of love as a child I take for granted. It epitomizes the maxim of if I couldn’t laugh about it I’d cry. I admire the way, Lindsay, the author is breakin I wanted to like this book. I really really fucking did. But as a Chinese Canadian woman with woo woo, I related more to characters the author abhors like her Poh Poh than to the author herself. I cannot begin to imagine the kind of abuse the author went through and know that her dark humour is a way to cope with having never been shown the kind of love as a child I take for granted. It epitomizes the maxim of if I couldn’t laugh about it I’d cry. I admire the way, Lindsay, the author is breaking the cycle and the silence of the Woo Woo. A great way to continue to fight that Woo Woo might be by learning more about mental health so that the compassion she feels for her cursed female relatives can be explored. I also hope that consent from family has played a part in this tell- all but understand if it hasn’t.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Slavica

    Intiman uvid u azijsku zajednicu i paralelni svijet u kome zive u Kanadi. Jos intimnija pripovijest porodicnog ludila (bukvalno ludila). Na mjestima bas nevjesto pisanje, vidi se da joj je prva knjiga, nadam se da ce to malo izbrusiti.

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