I read Crazy Rich Asians last year with my book club and it was a complete surprise “holy crap this is great” book. I had no idea I would love a book like that so much, but I did. Then the television show Jane the Virgin happened and I was like, no, no, I won’t like a show like that but of course I did because it’s the same level of crazy (and crazy rich) soap opera drama that permeates Kwan’s work. When Jane ended a few weeks ago I didn’t know what I’d do with myself — until China Rich Girlfriend showed up. Crazy adventures and misunderstandings for everyone!
Seriously, it’s so great, guys. China Rich Girlfriend picks up a while after Crazy Rich Asians left off, so there has been plenty of time for insanity of that book to percolate into even insaner insanity. Nick and Rachel, the engaged and then estranged couple from the first book, are back together and better than ever now that Nick’s not talking to his mom at all. Because that’s healthy. And going to go well. Let’s just say that Eleanor literally crashes her son’s wedding, but for a good reason — she’s found Rachel’s dad and she totally approves of him. But Rachel’s new family may not feel quite the same way about her.
Meanwhile Nick’s cousin Astrid, who had some serious marriage troubles due to her extreme wealth and her husband’s lack of it, is now dealing with a husband wealthy in his own right who suddenly doesn’t have time for anything that doesn’t make him look and feel richer than God. And former porn star Kitty Pong, who played a small role in the first book, shows up to flaunt her own ridiculous riches and make several enemies in the process, but with the help of a sort of personal life coach she’s hoping to turn her image around so that she can continue her flaunting in even better company.
So, yeah. AMAZING. Many of the characters from the first book make appearances of varying importance in this second book, but it doesn’t really matter who’s there because the main stories are all completely engrossing in their own right. Like, seriously, I was making excuses to invent time to read this book. It’s kind of absurd how Kwan can take a plot like “Will Rachel’s newfound family accept her?” or “Can Astrid make peace with her husband’s new life goals?” or, most ridiculously, “What the heck is up with Kitty’s husband?” (spoiler: omg the greatest thing ever) and make the answers something I must know immediately right now but okay, sure, you can go ahead and talk about drag racing and fashion, I can totally wait. I probably don’t even know what half the words in this book mean, between the fashion, interior design, and various Asian exclamations (okay, I know what those mean because there are footnotes [!!]), but I do not care.
If you haven’t read Crazy Rich Asians but you like or think you might like wacky rich-person soap operas, you should go read it, then read a bunch of other books, and then when you’re in need of absurdism come back to this one. You could maybe read China Rich Girlfriend first, but the beginning won’t make a lot of sense and also you would be missing out on all the wonder of the original novel. Regardless, whenever you get around to reading this novel, let me warn you that the ending will leave you dying for a third installment in this series, so have plenty of other books on hand to distract you from the fact that there isn’t one (yet???).
Recommendation: Why are you even still reading this blog, go obtain these books immediately!