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Listen to the Squawking Chicken by Elaine Lui [Review]


Listen to the Squawking Chicken had me Googling the meaning of moles on my face and calling girls “low classy” under my breath.

I don’t read very much biography, but I loved this book. I also don’t know much about Lainey Gossip (my sister saw me reading this book and filled me in) so I was able to read this book without a preconceived notion of who Elaine is.

I devoured the Squawking Chicken over Chinese New Year weekend in equal parts delight, horror and fascination.

Delight, because parts of Elaine’s coming of age story is very funny. Bra shopping with her mother, making friends, bringing home new boyfriends- hilarious. This book explores the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters. It’s clear that Elaine loves and respects her mother and values her advice above all things.

Horror, because I’m a big wimp. As a rule, I try to avoid horror at all costs. From books, to television to haunted houses at Halloween.

The first chapter, “Never Bring Home an Umbrella from the Street,” terrified me. It’s safe to say that this chapter has ended my habit of picking up interesting things from the street. This chapter is full of folklore from China and superstitious things that happened in the Squawking Chicken’s past.  In fact, this whole book is steeped in superstition and stories.

The Squawking Chicken is a devout believer in Feng Shui. When Elaine was younger, she had a mole on her face. Her mother made her remove it because according to Feng Shui someone with a mole in that position would die by age 22 by drowning. Ahh!  (I wish I could tell you that I didn’t research the moles on my face, but I totally did.)

This goes for everything, from the food you eat to buying a house. As Elaine says,

The point is, you just have to believe. That’s it. And if you don’t believe, well, you’ll see. That’s Feng Shui blackmail, the “or else” is always implied. ….The “or else” would hang there, over my head, like an upside-down-jack-in-the-box just waiting to pop out and fuck me up.

Fascination, because the story of the Squawking Chicken is really, really interesting. From her childhood, to her marriage, I remained captivated. The harrowing tale of how she became the squawking chicken will stay with you.

I loved reading about Chinese cultural tidbits. The way money is viewed, certain numbers and traditions were fun to learn about. I related with Elaine’s boe doe, the habit of checking in with her mother. Whatever she’s doing, wherever she’s going, she always checks in with her mother. In this way, I’m like this too.

If you’re a fan of Lainey Gossip, you definitely need to read this book. If you aren’t a fan of Lainey Gossip, by the end of Listen to the Squawking Chicken you are guaranteed to be a fan of Elaine Lui, and her mother too.

Listen to the Squawking Chicken by Elaine Lui
Publisher: Random House
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published: April 1, 2014

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