The cover Family Trust is beautiful and eye-catching — the bright red a nod to the Chinese-American family it surrounds, the embossed gold design an indicator of their wealth. And, though it’s enough to make anyone give it a second glance, it was the description that drew me in.
The Huang family is experiencing a crisis. Stanley, the patriarch, is dying. Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and losing weight at an alarming pace, it’s clear that it’s time to get his affairs in order. His children, Fred and Kate, are prompted by their mother and Stanley’s ex-wife, Linda, to make sure they will get their fair share. They don’t want to see it go to his second much younger wife, Mary.
The story is told from multiple points of view, primarily Fred, Kate and Linda, with Stanley and Mary getting one chapter each. This format helps to give a complete picture of the trio and is well-done. It’s very clear Kathy Wang spent a lot of time in her characters’ heads. It is also presumably an attempt to create some empathy for these characters, who are focused on Stanley’s estate more than the man himself. After learning about Stanley, I’m not necessarily faulting them.
I found each character unlikeable in their own way — though I found I actually enjoyed Linda, who reminded me of a more independent version of Emily Gilmore. Though the characters are no Crazy Rich Asians (and aside from them being of Asian descent, there is no comparison between that book and this — despite several blurbs saying so), they are extremely wealthy by most Americans’ standards. The children are entitled, and Stanley is maddeningly inept. I don’t have to have a character to relate to in order to enjoy a story, but it certainly helps.
Still, fans of The Nest, other books about “rich people problems” or family dramas will want to check this one out. It’s well-written, and I enjoyed Kathy Wang’s unique insight into Silicon Valley. I’d certainly be interested in seeing more from her!
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for letting me participate in this tour.
About Family Trust
• Hardcover: 400 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (October 30, 2018)
THE INAUGURAL BUZZFEED BOOK CLUB PICK
NAMED ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF THE FALL BY
The Washington Post • Elle.com • Buzzfeed • Entertainment Weekly • Bustle • The Globe and Mail • Apartment Therapy • Town & Country • Harper’s Bazaar
“Reads like a brilliant mashup of The Nest and Crazy Rich Asians (with a soupçon of Arrested Development for good measure).” — Cristina Alger, author of The Banker’s Wife
Meet Stanley Huang: father, husband, ex-husband, man of unpredictable tastes and temper, aficionado of all-inclusive vacations and bargain luxury goods, newly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Meet Stanley’s family: son Fred, who feels that he should be making a lot more money; daughter Kate, managing a capricious boss, a distracted husband, and two small children; ex-wife Linda, familiar with and suspicious of Stanley’s grandiose ways; and second wife Mary, giver of foot rubs and ego massages.
For years, Stanley has insistently claimed that he’s worth a small fortune. Now, as the Huangs come to terms with Stanley’s approaching death, they are also starting to fear that Stanley’s “small fortune” may be more “small” than “fortune.” A compelling tale of cultural expectations, career ambitions and our relationships with the people who know us best, Family Trust draws a sharply loving portrait of modern American family life.
About Kathy Wang
Kathy Wang grew up in Northern California and holds degrees from UC Berkeley and Harvard Business School. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two children.
Visit Kathy’s website and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Photo by Nina Subin.
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