To Be Honest: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

A mix of fun, humor, culture, wish fulfillment, drama, and some really touching moments. Really enjoy being inside this world and can’t wait for the sequel to China Rich Girlfriend. To Be Honest, I cannot get enough. ~HBT

china rich girlfriend book review

I read this book a long time ago. I made my Google Doc on December 23, 2013 where I write all my notes and it when it came time to edit my quotes there wasn’t anything there! I’m not sure what happened, but I was devastated. I got the book again last summer, reread it, and made new notes. I also reread it again this winter and spring. LOVED THIS BOOK. Just read the sequel and loved it as well. Hope to meet Mr. Kevin Kwan himself someday.

Favorite Quotes from Crazy Rich Asians

Nick’s mother, Eleanor, has a bunch of friends who meet once in a while for bible club. Carol says to the ladies:
“I know my husband has to fly to Beijing to take over some Internet company called Ali Baibai earlier in the week.”
-This is such a great reference to Alibaba which is poised to take over Amazon and EBay soon according to the business buzz and shows Carol’s ignorance.Kevin Kwan

Nick’s cousin, Astrid, is a major character in the books. Here she thinks about a suspicious situation with her husband Michael:
“Nonono. It was nothing serious. Probably some girl he met on his work trip. A fancy dinner. A one-night stand. And he bought her off with a bracelet. A silly charm bracelet. So cliche. At least he was discreet. At least he went and screwed the girl in Hong Kong, not Singapore. Many wives have to put up with so much more. Think of some of my friends. Think of what Fiona Tung has to go through with Eddie. The humiliation. I am lucky. I am so lucky. Don’t be so bourgeois. It’s just a fling. Don’t make this a big deal. Remember, grace under pressure.”
-Really makes you think. How do different people think about infidelity? Or more specifically, how do women think about it.

Kevin Kwan


Rachel’s best friend from college sees Nick’s grandmother’s house in Singapore and cannot believe the size and opulence displayed. She tells her family about it and they investigate ending up at a Dr. Gu’s house who knew Nick’s grandfather once.

Dr Gu shares a story of how Nick’s grandfather helped him out of a serious situation years ago and then Kevin Kwan tells us the following:
“As Dr. Gu walked slowly back into his house, he felt a sudden pang of regret. He wished he hadn’t said so much about the Youngs. Wye Mun, as usual, had steered him toward the stories about money, and he had missed the chance to tell them the real story, about a man whose greatness had nothing to do with wealth or power.”
– This was my favorite moment of the book actually. The story was masked in gossip, but the man regretted it.

This book is CHOCK FULL of information and pop culture references. From locations in Asia, Europe, New York, and California to terms in Hokkien or Malay and much much more. I picked a few below.

THE NUMBER 8crazy rich asians kevin kwan china rich girlfriend mandarin cantonese
Araminta and Colin had 888 wedding guests. The number 8 is considered by the Chinese to be an extremely lucky number since in both Mandarin and Cantonese it sounds similar to the word for prosperity or fortune. Triple eight means triple the luck.
– It’s also connected to the spiritual or magical ideas of 8 being a “lucky” number since it represents North, South, East, West, Up, Down, and the soul (or something like it). Also, there’s the obvious infinity connection. Fun times.


Eddie, Nick’s haughty cousin, has a best friend who is even richer than he. His father’s name? Ming Kah-Ching. It took me two reads to get the joke here, but boy did I appreciate it.


We see this displayed more in China Rich Girlfriend, but Kevin Kwan shows us a taste of how “cheap” the old money ladies can be.

Nick’s mother uses a calling card to call long distance. “Old-money Chinese absolutely loathe wasting money on long-distance telephone calls, almost as much as they hate wasting money on fluffy towels, bottled water, hotel rooms, expensive Western food, taking taxis, tipping waiters, and flying anything other than economy class.”


crazy rich asians kevin kwan

Designer Pierre Balmain, (one of my favs) created the flight attendants’ uniforms. Here’s an excerpt from a CN Traveller article about the design,

“Balmain insisted that each kebaya was individually tailored to fit each stewardess to ensure a feminine fit. Standards are rigorous. The airline expects perfect presentation, and to this end employs a grooming consultant to tailor a make-up colour guide for each employee, to compliment her skin tone and features; and fittings are done at least every six months. Besides a minor change to the collar in 1974, Balmain’s sarong kebaya has remained the same since 1968.”

Want to see what it would be like to fly with them? Check out their YouTube. /dreams


Rumoured to have the most beautiful women in China. Google has a few hits about this and here‘s a blog post. Who knew?

Please read this book and get back to me in the comments! :)

Check out my pal Andrea’s great post with a map about the NYC locations featured in the book, her fan casting, and her soundtrack wishlist.