Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians

Shwar Zaidi, Contributor

“Crazy Rich Asians,” is a 2013 novel written by Kevin Kwan. It’s a romantic comedy about two NYU professors, Rachel Chu and Nick Young. After the couple gets serious, Nick decides to introduce his girlfriend  to his family in Singapore at his best friend’s wedding. When Rachel arrives with him, she realizes that her boyfriend is related to a bunch of, well, crazy rich Asians.

Although Rachel is the main character, the novel is written from several characters’ points of view.

First we’ll begin with Rachel, who finds out that Nick is related to the wealthiest empire in Asia and has a tough time adjusting to his lifestyle because she is an immigrant that was raised by her single mother. Due to her low-income upbringing, it was especially difficult for Rachel to impress Nick’s gold-digging and very materialistic mother, Eleanor Young.

Amidst the chaos, Rachel finds out her father is alive and wishes to meet him. She becomes furious that her mother, Kerry Chu, lied to her — even though she was only trying to protect her daughter. As Rachel is going through this whirlwind of emotions she leaves Nick.

Through all of this, Eleanor is struggling to accept Rachel as someone more than just a fling and instead as a romantic partner for Nick. She tries in every way possible to keep Nick away from Rachel. Eleanor even goes as far as stalking Rachel’s past and exposing that her father, who Rachel believed was dead, is in jail and very much alive.

Not too long after, Rachel realizes that her father is not the man she imagined him to be, as he was intolerable and abusive to her mother. With remorse and guilt building up inside her, Rachel decides to make up with Kerri and eventually goes back to Nick.

Within the book, many other minor characters are described such as Rachel’s best friend, Goh Peik Lin, who is an outgoing spirit with a big family who comforted Rachel during stressful times.

There’s also Nick’s family, and their lives are just as crazy.

Astrid Leong, Nick’s very attractive, rich cousin. She is married to Michael Teo and they share a son named Cassian. However, during their journey together Astrid realizes that their love was not strong enough and senses that her husband may be involved in an affair. Later, Michael confesses he faked having an affair in order to end his relationship with Astrid. He could no longer stand her selfishly materialistic family that swore they were better than him because he was not as rich as Astrid.

Nick’s other cousin, Eddie Cheng, is very spoiled and shallow. He is married to Fiona Cheng and has three kids. Eddie appears to care solely about his status and reputation to be wealthy. But even Fiona has had enough of his behavior and finally stood up to him when she could not deal with how much he cared for his money and not about their family.

Alistair Cheng, Nick’s youngest cousin and Eddie’s brother, is an actor and dated the soap opera star, Kitty Pong — who was frowned upon by the family due to her skimpy clothing and greed. Kitty ends up leaving Alistair when she assumes he is not rich.

The novel turned film has become very popular since its release. The story shows how tough it can be to come from an Asian family that is rich, materialistic and disliked because of their values.

“Crazy Rich Asians” is followed by two other novels: “China Rich Girlfriend” and “Rich People Problems.”