Listen to the Squawking Chicken
When Mother Knows Best, What’s a Daughter To Do? A Memoir (Sort Of)
About The Book:
Most people think I’m exaggerating at first when I talk about the Chinese Squawking Chicken. But once they actually spend some time with her, they understand. They get it. Right away. She’s Chinese, she squawks like a chicken, she is totally nuts, and I am totally dependent on her.
When Elaine Lui was growing up, her mother told her, “Why do you need to prepare for the good things that happen? They’re good. They won’t hurt you. My job is to prepare you for the hard times, and teach you how to avoid them, whenever possible.” Neither traditionally Eastern nor conventionally Western, the Squawking Chicken raised her daughter drawing on Chinese fortune-telling, feng shui blackmail, good old-fashioned ghost stories, and shame and embarrassment in equal measure. And despite years of chafing against her mother’s parenting style, Elaine came to recognize the hidden wisdom—and immeasurable value—in her rather unorthodox upbringing.
Listen to the Squawking Chicken lays bare the playbook of unusual advice and warnings used to teach Elaine about hard work (“Miss Hong Kong is a whore”), humility (“I should have given birth to a piece of barbecue pork”), love and friendship, family loyalty (“Where’s my money?”), style and deportment (“Don’t be low classy”), finding one’s own voice (“Walk like an elephant, squawk like a chicken”) among other essentials. Along the way, Elaine poignantly reveals how her mother earned the nickname “Tsiahng Gai” or “squawking chicken” growing up in Hong Kong, enduring and rising from the ashes of her own hard times.
Listen to the Squawking Chicken is a loving mother-daughter memoir that will have readers laughing out loud, gasping in shock, and reconsidering the honesty and guts it takes to be a parent.
Elaine Lui has an unconventional mother whose nick name is Squawking Chicken – earned by her unique sound of her voice. While she comes across as overbearing and eccentric, overall it comes from a place of love. She reminds me of a strange combination of my sister in laws mom, and mine – a little overbearing, overly superstitious, willing to mock you in the name of love, and a best frenemy.
I really liked the book, and totally relate to her checking in with her mom at all times. My mom and I will call each other many times a day, checking in, seeing what we are doing, discuss plans, etc. Thats just what you do! People think its strange but it works for both of us, as it does for her and her mom! I wish we heard more about Elaine’s adult life – meeting her husband, getting married, her growth in career, etc. I know this book was about and for her mom, so maybe she has another one coming.
Title: Listen to the Squawking Chicken
Author: Elaine Lui (Lainey Gossip)
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Random House of Canada / Amy Einhorn Books
Released: April 2014
Available on Amazon and at Chapters / Indigo