Book Review | Listen to the Squawking Chicken

Listen to the Squawking Chicken by Elaine Lui Book Cover

[I won a signed copy of this book from a Random House of Canada Twitter contest (thank you!). In no way does this affect my opinion of this book.]

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I started reading Listen to the Squawking Chicken. Of course, I knew Elaine Lui was Lainey from Lainey Gossip, but I had never been to her site or watched The Social before so I didn’t exactly know what she was like or how this book would be. I was pleasantly surprised.

Split into ten parts, each chapter of the book is a lesson Lainey learned throughout the years from her strict, but well-meaning mother (also known as the Squawking Chicken). From “Where’s My Money?” to “I Should Have Given Birth to a Barbecue Pork” to “Why Are You Dating a Triangle Head,” Listen to the Squawking Chicken is filled with hilarious and heartwarming lessons Lui learned from her mother. These stories guided and shaped Lui’s way of viewing the world and Listen to the Squawking Chicken, which is essentially a daughter’s love letter to her mother, is as touching as it is funny.

As a Chinese Canadian, I related to a lot of the stories Lui tells. Like Lui, I also lived in Hong Kong for a part of my life so it was fun for me to be able to figure out the phonetically-spelled Chinese phrases she uses in the book. One thing that really resonated with me was the mentality that in Chinese culture, the act of providing happiness to one’s parents is one of the main goals of a child. As someone who grew up largely in North America, it is sometimes hard for me to remember this fundamental value, but reading this book has reminded me of it and I have pledged to be a better child.

Though my mother isn’t as superstitious as Lui’s, I had a lot of fun reading about her Feng Shui and ghost stories. Everything was told so convincingly that I even started believing in Feng Shui a little bit. And I will never, ever bring an abandoned umbrella home from the street ever again.

The tone of this book is very light-hearted and friendly but it commands the reader’s attention, just as I’d imagine the Squawking Chicken would. You don’t have to be Chinese to enjoy it; in fact, I think everyone should read this book as there’s something in there for all ages. I really love the fact that by writing this book, Lui is essentially making her mother’s stories and lessons immortal so that generations to come will be able to learn from her as well. Listen to the Squawking Chicken isn’t a plea, it’s a directive.

Listen to the Squawking Chicken by Elaine Lui Signed(I was lucky enough to meet Elaine Lui this past Sunday when she was at Indigo Bay and Bloor and I got my book signed in person. She is so sweet and friendly and made a point to chat with everyone while signing their books!)

Verdict: A very moving, humorous “sort of” memoir about a mother’s lessons to her daughter. I loved it!
Read if: You like reading memoirs, are a fan of Lainey Gossip/Elaine Lui, are looking for a fun, easy but meaningful read.

Have you read Listen to the Squawking Chicken? What did you think?

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17 thoughts on “Book Review | Listen to the Squawking Chicken

  1. Naomi says:

    Good review- you’ve convinced me! I wasn’t familiar with Elaine Lui’s other work before this book, either. Not even Lainey Gossip. I like that you describe how the book is set up. This one will go on my list!

    • kmn04books says:

      I’m actually really interested in digging up her TED talk about the sociology of gossip! It’s such an interesting take on a subject that a lot of people dismiss as “low brow”! Have you seen it?

      • The Paperback Princess says:

        YES. It’s brilliant. She is so smart. You’re right – people dismiss celebrity gossip as trash. But we all gossip – it’s an anthropological truth. Celebrity gossip is just heightened. Her theory about everyone’s place in the ecology of celebrity is fantastic. You need to watch the TED talk for sure.

  2. M. says:

    This looks really entertaining! And isn’t it great when you find a voice you can really identify with – particularly one who shares some of your unique culture and experiences? it’s a lot harder to come across these than you might think. I don’t think this is a book I would have even noticed at the bookstore, but now that I’ve read your review, I’m definitely interested in it!

    • kmn04books says:

      It’s so great. And I love it all the more because even though her mother doles out some hard lessons, she was able to see the love underneath it all and I think that’s so, so important. The fact that I had very similar experiences to her just made the book so much more meaningful to me but it really is appropriate for everyone! You should definitely give it a go if you get the chance 🙂

    • kmn04books says:

      She is seriously so sweet. I love the personalized message too! I’m glad I could give you a different perspective with my review. I definitely love how Lui was able to see past all the difficult lessons her mother taught her and understand that it was out of pure love. Such a great message to everyone!

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