I finally finished Shanghai Baby and my thoughts on Coco did not change all that much. Now, before I start my review, here is a short summary/synopsis of Shanghai Baby.
Shanghai Baby tells the story of Coco, a writer from Shanghai who lives with her live in boyfriend Tian Tian, who is impotent. During the course of the story, Coco begins to have an affair with a German Businessman named Mark (married with a toddler), a man who works with her cousin. Along the way, we meet Madonna (Tian Tian’s friend), Ah Dick, Zhu Sha, and many others. The whole story revolves around Coco trying to find her way back as a writer/ artist, trying to have an affair, and trying not to hurt Tian Tian-the man she loves.
This is a great book, but towards the middle it began to lag. In the beginning, we learn about Coco’s background, her writing, and her love for Tian Tian and then we dive into the world of affairs. Before I get started on what I thought about Coco and Tian Tian I want to talk about the side characters, who I think need their own book.
Madonna- Who needs her own book because her life story is what dramas are made of- came from an abusive household, running away, she became a Madam after buying her freedom, she always has boyfriends, and she is a person that can never be alone. I want to know more about her.
There are so many characters who could have their own book, but I think Tian Tian’s mom takes the cake, she abandoned her son semi-before/after her husband died, moved to Spain-opened a restaurant, sends money to Tian Tian- hadn’t seen him in 10 years- and married a Spanish man. You also find out that, the reason she left is because of the treatment she received from her mother in law (which is no excuse to leave your child, but I can’t judge her because I’ve never been in that situation)
I’m not going to talk about Mark because I felt as if he was there for eye candy and also was there to fill a void Tian Tian couldn’t, plus I think Coco like so many of us was going through a midlife crisis. Ok, so Tian Tian and Coco, at some point I wanted to drop the book because of this couple, they kept saying they were happy but it was all a farse! Britney Spears-Toxic comes to mind when I think of this couple. Tian Tian has parental issues and just doesn’t want to face reality (understandable, mom left and dad died), but he just didn’t have the will to live-he lived just for Coco, and at some point he started doing drugs and then Coco took him to rehab and then when he found out about the affair (via Madonna) he started doing drugs again. At some point, you have to stop blaming the people around you, LIVE FOR TIAN TIAN! I had the same issue with Coco, I understand that you are having writers block, and you love Tian Tian, but you aren’t in love with him-you’re using him to fill a void because you need to feel needed and by Mark you wanted to feel wanted. The odd thing is, Coco was able to write when Tian Tian was in rehab. The saddest part of the book was that, Tian Tian just couldn’t live for himself, I have never met or read about a person who was breathing, but suffocating at the same time. Coco went on to finish her book, I heard in the sequel she stopped speaking to Mark.
I learned four things from the book: You need to live for yourself, stay away from toxic situations, follow your dreams, and also, we as a society need to focus more on Mental Health.
I rate this book a 6.5 out of 10. It was an interesting roller coaster which ended the same way it started-asking, who am I.