Jun 2, 2022

Book Review: The Family Chao by Lan Samantha Chang


The Family Chao
by Lan Samantha Chang
Published February 1st 2022 by W. W. Norton Company
Genre: Cultural heritage fiction, mystery, literary fiction 
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's amazing that a chance encounter with a stranger, Zhang Fujian, carrying a small fortune in his bag would lead to the downfall of the Chao family patriarch, owner of the Chao restaurant, and lead to suspicion falling on the three sons. James, the youngest son, helping an old Chinese man at the train station began the turmoil of events. Little did anyone know that the man's blue bag, forgotten in the back of a car, would be removed and transported to different places and cause a major problem for the Chao family.

How the three brothers - master chef Dagou, industrious and ambitious Ming, and college student James - stick together, facing the insults and disdain of their overbearing father during the illness and the death of their mother, and how they rally in each other's defense is admirable. Family secrets also prove fatal in this story.

I enjoyed the characterization of each son, so different from one another, and the denouement of the plot in this domestic drama. There is a murder mystery to be solved, also, but I liked that the brothers join together in the face of being children of immigrants in a small American town, and in the face of possible, pending tragedy.

Critics have called The Family Chao a reimagining of  The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky.

Book beginning: 
For thirty-five years everybody supported Leo Chao's restaurant. Introducing choosy newcomers by showing off some real Chinese food in Haven, Wisconsin. 

At 56% of ebook: 
Then after Winnie died, someone - one of his brothers, or even one of this parents' friends -would have carried the blue blag out of the hospital and loaded it into a car. And then what? 

Memes: The Friday 56. Find any sentence that grabs you on page 56 of your book. Post it, and add your URL to Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader.


  1. I like the sound of this. I enjoy family drama's. Wonderful review!

  2. Sounds interesting!

    Have a great weekend!

    Emily @ Budget Tales Book Blog
    My post:

  3. Sounds like a must read! Thanks for sharing!

  4. You have me intrigued. It sounds like a lot is going on in this novel ... but the three brothers banding together in the face of hardships interests me ... like the Brothers Karamazov. I will look for it.

  5. This one does sound like a good read! Thanks for putting it on my radar. :)

    1. Hope you get a chance to give us your thoughts on it.

  6. This looks like a great read. Might have to check it out! Happy Reading!

  7. This sounds like a good story. Great review!

  8. Replies
    1. Share with us your thought on the book if you read it.

  9. It does sound like a brilliant family saga. Will take a look!

    Elza Reads

  10. I wish you had told us more of why it's like the Brothers K. That's a very intriguing thing to say.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    1. Three brothers against an overbearing, terrible father, whom one of them is accused of killing. Also, the personalities and characters of the three Chao brothers are similar to the three brothers Karamazov.


I love getting comments and your thoughts...

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson and TBR Thrillers: Sunday Salon

  I am familiar with Jamaican black cake, a traditional fruit cake with fruits soaked in rum and wine. I went to many weddings and celebrati...