Family Trust by Kathy Wang is about a wealthy Chinese-American family coming to terms with the patriarch’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis. It deals heavily with wealth—both having it and not having it, immigrant parents and their American-born children and some relationship drama. There’s also comedic moments, too.
The story focuses on the father Stanley Huang, the mother and Stanley’s first wife, Linda Liang, their adult children Kate and Fred, and Mary Zhu, Stanley’s much younger second wife. 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.” For more about the synopsis, click here.
Multi-perspectives and storylines
While the overarching plot is about Stanley’s cancer diagnosis, there’s plenty of smaller storylines that take place with each character. Fred always believed he would become a major player in the Silicon Valley financial tech scene. But the reality is that he’s a minor investor at a middling corporate firm. Whereas Kate is successful at her job and is a middle manager with one of Silicon Valley’s most prestigious tech companies. However, there seems to be something off with her relationship with her husband. Linda Liang worked hard for decades to ensure their financial security, and is determined to see her children get their due. She’s also thinking about dating again. And Mary Zhu believes all her foot and ego massages to Stanley warrants her a large payout from him in the end.
As you can see, there’s plenty going on. When there’s so many storylines, there’s a tendency to be more engaged in one over the other. I actually was most interested in Linda’s storyline and Fred’s the least. I honestly didn’t love any of the characters but I was invested enough to read the entire book. However, this book shows how flawed people can be and I don’t think the goal was for people to have great affection for each of them but rather to show a diverse group of people with different goals and motivations.
The aspect that I was most interested in was the relationship between Chinese immigrant parents and their American-born children. As the book goes on, we learn more about the complicated dynamic between Stanley and the kids and how strict and cruel he was at times to them. There was plenty of pressure for them to not only succeed but excel at everything they do. Both Stanley and Linda came to America expecting to grab hold of the American dream. But everyone slowly learns that idea might be more myth than reality.
While this was compared to Crazy Rich Asians, I think this one was a bit more grounded and also darker. Yes, it deals with wealth but it also shows how life can sometimes disappoint you.
But despite all that is going on in this read, I didn’t love it. I found myself putting it down several times. Truthfully, it was Linda’s storyline that kept me engaged to the end. Maybe it was timing, I feel there’s been quite a bit of ‘rich people problem’ stories so could be an overload of that. The writing is great, the length is right and there is plenty of humor. I just felt something was missing with it.