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The Woo-Woo

How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons, and My Crazy Chinese Family
Written by: Lindsay Wong
Narrated by: Eunice Wong
Length: 9 hrs and 52 mins
4 out of 5 stars (211 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In this jaw-dropping, darkly comedic memoir, a young woman comes of age in a dysfunctional Asian family whose members blamed their woes on ghosts and demons when in fact they should have been on antipsychotic meds.   

Lindsay Wong grew up with a paranoid schizophrenic grandmother and a mother who was deeply afraid of the “woo-woo” - Chinese ghosts who come to visit in times of personal turmoil. From a young age, she witnessed the woo-woo’s sinister effects; at the age of six, she found herself living in the food court of her suburban mall, which her mother saw as a safe haven because they could hide there from dead people, and on a camping trip, her mother tried to light Lindsay’s foot on fire to rid her of the woo-woo.  

The eccentricities take a dark turn, however, when her aunt, suffering from a psychotic breakdown, holds the city of Vancouver hostage for eight hours when she threatens to jump off a bridge. And when Lindsay herself starts to experience symptoms of the woo-woo herself, she wonders whether she will suffer the same fate as her family.  

On one hand a witty and touching memoir about the Asian immigrant experience and on the other a harrowing and honest depiction of the vagaries of mental illness, The Woo-Woo is a gut-wrenching and beguiling manual for surviving family and oneself.

©2018 Lindsay Wong (P)2018 Audible, Inc.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Unforgettable

This is a great book about family, abuse, and mental health. It is a dark, dark, dark comedy. I think the subtitle (no doubt chosen by the publisher and not the author) makes the book seem like it is going to be more about hockey and drug raids than it is. I'm guessing they wanted a subtitle that they thought might sell more copies. I hope it works because this is the kind of fantastic memoir that is hard to summarize in such a way that makes it sound as enjoyable as it was. Like if I were to describe the book, I would call it a dark memoir about how mental illness is impacted by culture and vice versa. That doesn't sound like something you would want to read, but actually it is! This book is definitely up there in the Top 10 best memoirs I've read, along with Angela's Ashes, The Glass Castle, Running with Scissors, and Lucky. It is an unforgettable book about a girl who grew up without any of the emotional and physical kindnesses that we assume children will receive from their parents, but instead with physical and verbal abuse and emotional and intellectual neglect, and yet the author figures out—surely, but very slowly—how to become a person.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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My two cents

Although the subject is about mental disease (a serious subject...), I found this audiobook quite entertaining.

I do not know if this is a comedy, but there are a lot of funny anecdotes in her story. Some people might find her family and the author to be insensitive, but everything gets explained better as the story carries on. It also give a scope about Vancouver.

I particularly liked the dad. He was so crude and it made me laugh. The narrator is very good too particularly her accents!

It is a good book for those that like dark humour... like me!



6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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lifelong therapeutic

I came from Asian parents and have had similar but not as intense scars from my struggling parents. I appreciate Ms. Wong's honest and courageous stories to help heal my wounds too.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it.

This was such a sad yet somehow funny story about mental illness and family dysfunction. Characters were really well developed. Narration was excellent. It was a good follow up to Tara Westover's book Educated which touches on similar themes.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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It should have been a short story

The narration was great. But the story became excruciating repetitive. The characters did not evolve. It was the same story told over and over again. The identities of the characters were reduced to one single story: their mental illness and nothing else. I got through the book – with several long breaks in between.

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Not quite sure how this made it to Canada Reads.

I have listened to at least 30 books on Audile this year. I finished this out of sheer determination and hopeful that it would get better. Way too much swearing, some necessary perhaps, but not to this degree.
I found the voice funny at times, but wearing and shrill.
Was not worth my time.

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Stranger than fiction!

Listening to this book was like observing a fiery car crash: horrifying yet deeply fascinating, and most importantly, impossible to look away. The author has a real talent for storytelling and wow, what a story to tell. Thank god for the humorous and self-deprecating tone, because this tale of mental illness and family dysfunction would be too bleak without it. I'm a 3rd generation Chinese-Canadian living in Vancouver (where the story takes place) so I was especially interested in this story; Lindsay Wong did not disappoint! (The narrator definitely ups the entertainment factor with her various character portrayals.)

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Didn't like, returned

Sorry, I did not like this book and returned it. Purchased because it was a 2019 Canada Reads finalist. I tried to listen, but it was just too heart wrenching. Surviving her mother's abuse, mental illness and a Chinese culture that seems, to me, to be a total lack of care, love and nurture for the children, was something I just did not want to hear about. Not because I did not care, but because, as I said, it was too heartwrenching. Another case of our society failing to protect it's most vulnerable.

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The Woo Woo

The book was very hard to get into for the first half. After that it was enjoyable.

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Excellent!

Stand out story and performance!
This is a funny and insightful story of family and life with a chronic health condition. Very interesting and well written. I laughed a lot!

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  • Greg B.
  • 2018-11-05

Crazy addictive, couldn't stop listening!

I made myself late for several appointments because I couldn't stop listening. It's a memoir about a Chinese family that has really extreme mental issues -- but they don't believe in western medicine and think their craziness is because of ghosts. This book is also HILARIOUS. I lost count of how many times I laughed out loud, thanks both to the writer Lindsay Wong, and the narrator Eunice Wong, who does an amazing job. Especially loved the voice of the father and the (crazy crazy crazy) grandmother. Eunice Wong really does the book justice by making you crack up one minute and then the next you're either horrified or heartbroken at this family. I don't know how there could be a sequel, but I would really like there to be one! (I did a little internet sleuthing, and The Woo Woo was nominated for the Hilary Weston prize, which is Canada's biggest non-fiction award. It's a seriously good book. And this is a seriously good performance of it.)

3 of 3 people found this review helpful