S3E2. Tiger Daughter (ft. interview with Rebecca Lim)

Last episode was prompted by Elise’s recommendation. This time, it’s Priscilla’s. Tiger Daughter tells the story of Wen and Henry, and what happens when tragedy strikes their community. We cover themes of domestic abuse, misogyny, and the ripple effect of suicide – all framed by the Chinese immigrant experience in Australia. The first part of this episode is spoiler-free.

Also, we interview author Rebecca Lim! Stay tuned for Rebecca’s insights on her writing process and the themes of Tiger Daughter. 

Mental health topics covered: suicide, grief, depression, stigma and community attitudes

Additional trigger warnings: racism, misogyny, domestic abuse, coercive control

Listen to the podcast:

About the Book

What I feel most days is that nothing is ever going to change. That my life won’t even start, and that I’ll be stuck like this forever.

Wen Zhou is the daughter and only child of Chinese immigrants whose move to the lucky country has proven to be not so lucky. Wen and her friend, Henry Xiao – whose mum and dad are also struggling immigrants – both dream of escape from their unhappy circumstances, and form a plan to sit an entrance exam to a selective high school far from home. But when tragedy strikes, it will take all of Wen’s resilience and resourcefulness to get herself and Henry through the storm that follows. 

About the author

Rebecca Lim is an Australian writer, illustrator, editor and lawyer.  She is the award-winning author of over twenty books, including The Astrologer’s Daughter and the bestselling Mercy series.  

Rebecca is a co-founder of the Voices from the Intersection initiative to support emerging young adult and children’s authors and illustrators who are First Nations, People of Colour, LGBTIQA+ or living with disability, and is a co-editor of Meet Me at the Intersection, a groundbreaking anthology of YA #OwnVoice memoir, poetry and fiction.  Find Rebecca on Instagram.

Our Thoughts

Tiger Daughter is the sort of book that reels you in, and tugs at your heartstrings. It’s a touching story which masterfully weaves together complex themes, while staying appropriate for a middle grade audience. We appreciated main character Wen’s tenacity, and how she used both her love and her anger to drive change within her family and community. Her friendship with Henry is a highlight.

Tiger Daughter portrays a thoughtful depiction of the ripple effect of suicide, intertwining the impacts of racism, domestic abuse, poverty, and stigma, with the Chinese immigrant experience. It encourages readers to question their own attitudes and assumptions, and to push back against injustices.

Overall, we highly recommend Tiger Daughter. Don’t forget to keep a box of tissues nearby.

Discussion Questions

  • What did you think of Wen as a character? Was there anything about her personality that you really liked, or disliked? 
  • What are your thoughts on Wen’s father’s character arc? How different do you think he would be if he had not migrated to Australia? 
  • Here’s a quote from Rebecca Lim: “Tiger Daughter asks readers – readers who have never been told ‘go back to where you come from’ and never will – to think about what it would be like to be marginalised for more reasons than being female.” How has the book impacted your thoughts or knowledge on this? 
  • Have you ever been part of a community rallying together to support somebody going through a tough time? If so, what was your experience? 
  • What types of books should be on primary and secondary school reading lists? 


The Next Book We’ll Discuss Is…

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams.

Summary: Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth. 
As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

Tune in to this episode in May 2023. In the meantime, pick up a copy and read along with us.

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