You notice I put the title in quotes because it is the statement of somebody else; as for me, the jury is still out. Let me explain. A few days after the Wall Street Journal published an excerpt from Amy Chua’s memoir — “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom” — and the media avalanched us with the reactions of thousands of angry, hysterical mothers, I received a letter from a “Louise B.”, who made some very curious claims. Here is that letter:
“I felt so miserable after seeing what that woman is doing, that I had to tell you about it. I know this woman who calls herself Amy Chua, and it’s all a lie. Her real name is Ethel Brand, and she is not Chinese. She said that she was once told her great-grandmother married some sailor in Shanghai, but she doesn’t believe it. Anyway, she has two daughters, that much is true, but their names are Dawn and Gloria, not Sophie and Lulu. And do you know what? They are both “C” minus students. Check it out.”
“I can tell you for sure Ethel wouldn’t know a piano stool from a bar stool. She likes John Mellencamp because he’s “hot”, but I bet she couldn’t tell you any of his songs. She’s also been picked up for DUI at least four times — once with me right next to her — but she’s never paid, and has to go out suspended.”
“As for this Yale connection, she left 11th grade after having Dawn, and never went back. She said she wouldn’t step foot in the state of Connecticut if you paid her. They’re the worst drivers she’s ever seen, even inside the limit.”
“Ethel told me she was writing this book while we were getting our hair done. She said it was going to be “inspirational”, like Oprah and Lady Gaga. I didn’t believe her, but then she invited me over and showed it to me on a yellow pad. I pulled out a few pages while she wasn’t looking, so I can prove it. It’s word for word, I tell you!”
“Ethel’s husband is Larry — that’s this Jed Rubenfeld character in the book. This is hilarious! Larry left her years ago because she’s such a nag. That Asian looking woman on the interview shows — who the hell knows who she is? I figure she was hired by the publisher to put up a good front. And I don’t think she’s such a good actress (but, boy, would Ethel like to look like that!).
” I think this whole thing started when the school threatened to kick Dawn out for fighting and stuff. But then Ethel worked on the principal something fierce — you can guess what I’m talking about — and he said he’d make an exception this time. Ha! Lucky for Dawn her mother still knows how to sling the meat!”
“Ethel said the principal got bug-eyed when she showed him the manuscript. He said he knew an agent and they could turn this into solid gold.”
“I can prove all of this. I’m going to ask for a lot less for the rights than what Ethel got, but I bet you’ll score big with it. And I’m willing to stand by my words in personal interviews, no hot looking stand-in for me, uh-uh! Anyway, Ethel doesn’t speak to me any more, not since I backed the jeep into her tomatoes.”
She signed it “Yours truly, Louise B.”, and left her phone number, which I called. While expressing my serious doubts about many of her claims, I realized that I was not in a position to challenge her. I admit that I haven’t read Ms. Chua’s book, so I’m only going by what is flooding the electronic media. It seems that the only “story” being shown is how other mothers choose to raise their children, the pros and cons. But I haven’t seen any skepticism about what the book claims to be fact. Louise pointed this out to me herself. There hasn’t been one interview with anybody at Yale, or with any of her daughters’ teachers or friends. While Ms. Chua, or her stand-in, seems genuinely proud of her daughters, I was surprised that the media seems to accept her description of their lives, and achievements, as absolutely true. It may well be true, but I think that some nod to verifiability is called for before the media showcases the defensive reactions of all of these stressed-out American mothers.
As for Louise, we have arranged to meet next Tuesday at an Applebee’s outside Camden. She said I should be prepared to discuss terms.