the next good book

The Family Chao

By Lan Samantha Chang


296 pages

What’s it about?

In this loose version of “The Brothers Karamazov” we meet the family Chao.  The Chao’s run the local Chinese restaurant in Haven, Wisconsin.  When the youngest son James comes home from college, just in time for the annual Christmas party, he finds his mother has left his tyrannical father and moved into a Spiritual House to seek enlightenment.  When Leo Chao (the father) turns up dead on Christmas morning Dagou (the eldest son) is charged with murder.  Much like “The Brothers Karamozov” there is a trial and we learn all kinds of interesting facts about the Chao’s.

What did it make me think about?

This book was part family drama and part mystery.  So who killed Leo Chao and why?

Should I read it?

I enjoyed this book.  It was full of interesting characters, a solid mystery, and it all centered around the particular perspectives of three first-generation immigrants.  I would recommend this to anyone who is partial to character driven stories.


“But doesn’t every family have its own closed windows and closed doors?  Isn’t every family a walled fortress of stories unknown even to its neighbors? “

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