Charles Wang pops another aspirin and thinks of all the ways America has failed him. The country may have made the no-name immigrant into a cosmetics billionaire and given him a designer Bel-Air mansion that even Martha Stewart covets, but when the markets crashed, so did his empire. Now that he thinks about it, Charles is also angry at the Japanese for invading China and at the Communists for taking his family’s ancestral lands. Clearly, the world has screwed with the Wangs long enough!
With this exaggerated tirade, Jade Chang begins her hysterical debut novel, The Wangs vs. the World, which is set soon after the financial crisis of the last decade. Too vain to believe that it’s all over, Charles has one last scheme to return glory to the family. The first step is a cross-country drive from Los Angeles to New York to gather up the Wang clan, before returning to China to somehow reclaim their lost land.
Embarking on this epic road trip in a borrowed station wagon are Charles; his second wife, Barbra; and two of his children, Andrew, a wannabe comedian, and Grace, a teen fashion blogger, each gathered up from an expensive school Charles can no longer afford. Their collective hope lies in upstate New York with Saina, Charles’ oldest daughter, who escaped the financial catastrophe but has plenty of personal struggles.
Though the Wangs are poor and desperate, they never lose humor or hope. The zany scheme to reclaim the family riches takes a backseat to the family relationships, including loving, supportive and playful moments between the siblings. Charles, too, evolves from a failed businessman to a loving father who is willing to do anything to make sure his children are taken care of. Readers will be cheering for these underdogs.