Skip to main content

Listen To The Squawking Chicken by Elaine Lui

Elaine Lui, better known as Lainey from, eTalk or The Social CTV, is superstitious. And, as her first book Listen To The Squawking Chicken hits bookstores today, April 1st, you wonder if there’s just some sort of significance to it.

Of course, knowing Elaine Lui there has to be. Today, after all is April Fools Day. If you read the book she mentions that we all have our own lucky numbers. So, apart from it being the funniest day of the year that she decides to release her hilarious book, it’s also her husband Jacek’s birthday. But that’s not all: for Lainey there are other significances to April 1. It was the day her parents were married. It was the day she signed her first major contract. And now, it’s the official release date of Listen To The Squawking Chicken.

I found it amusing (and informational) that while Chinese numerology implies that four is an unlucky number, for her husband Jacek it’s actually lucky. He was born on the first day of the fourth month. Plus, a lot of significant occurrences have occurred in his life that involve the number four. I’ve been seeing my own 4:44 or 12:44 on the clock and after reading Listen To The Squawking Chicken, I’m feeling a bit lucky myself.

I’ve watched enough of The Social on CTV that now it’s become very predictable to me. But when I tune in from time to time, I enjoy the banter and the opposing viewpoints of Lainey. Generally outspoken, but hilariously on point, she never fails to insert her bit of Chinese mom humour into her stories.

Just the other week, I learnt that I shouldn’t pick up umbrellas off the street because they contain ghosts of children (not that I have really ever come across random umbrellas just abandoned on the street).

“Feng Shui Blackmail is why I can’t ever wear bangs.”

Listen To The Squawking Chicken is a hilarious read, even though at times the memoir feels like a self-therapeutic writing exercise for Lainey. But writing helps us face our past, doesn’t it? And, in doing so, we come to the truth and can move forward with our lives. That’s my takeaway from the memoir, a tribute to her mom. Her unique homage, in an age where Amy Chua’s Tiger Mom dominates the conversation of Asian centric parenting, is refreshingly comedic with serious undertones.

Elaine Lui acknowledges all the faults and decisions her mom made, and admits that it is what has made her the stronger person she is today. I remember her once saying on TV, that by revealing all your dark secrets to the world, the truth can never come back and haunt you. It’s your truth, own it and don’t give anyone else power to use it against you.

I must say though that while I found the stories about her mom’s quirks, public embarrassments and shaming, quite amusing, I still felt a tinge of guilt and sadness for her mom.

But, Elaine Lui acknowledges that the unusual advice that her mom gave her was all a blessing in disguise; to teach her about hard work, humility, love and friendship, family loyalty, style, and most importantly finding her own voice. In Listen To The Squawking Chicken Elaine Lui shows how her mom’s questionable raising techniques have made her the unique, successful individual that she is.

“My criticism of you always comes from a place of love. But, as you get older, your critics won’t love you. They will criticize and hurt you. I am preparing you for criticism that comes from your enemies.” ~ Lainey's Mom

Elaine Lui’s mom was tough on her, but she did so because she wanted to spare her daughter all the hardships that she had to endure.

“By verbally assaulting me all summer, by shaming me publicly, by constantly reminding me of my mistake, the Squawking Chicken was not only teaching me how to live with it, but inuring me to the criticism that would result from it. She wanted me to learn how to take it. She was helping me figure out how to deal with it. She was showing me how to recognize when to eat it when I was wrong, how to grow from it and move forward, and, when I was ready, how to use it to get stronger.” 

Listen To The Squawking Chicken is published by Random House Canada

4 out of 5 Sukasa Stars

Review by @ShilpaRaikar for @SukasaReads (a division of @SukasaStyle)