Book Review: ‘Rich People Problems’

The Intricate Story of Rich People Problems

A third book in his Cray Rich Asians series, the book baths in melodrama, is downright outrageous as it chronicles the experiences of three generations of families of Chinese descent. Within the veneer of possessions, these families have, Kwan demonstrates that they are only as sophisticated as the vast of wealth they possess. At the backdrop, these individuals are not only lack the polish of urban society but are also narrow-minded signifying the impact of having too much money without having earned it. These insanely rich Asians depict a depth of shallowness that projects their existence as being mired in and around money. Kwan is audacious in his presentation of the quality of life of the ultra-rich which is largely based on wealth. The book takes on a satirical approach toward the ultra-rich revealing their unapologetically backward nature. 

Rich People Problems Summary 

The book commences with two characters, Nick and Rachel Young who live in Manhattan. Nick is given news of his grandmother, Su Yi’s, heart attack. The imminence of her death forces Nick to seek audience with her grandmother before she dies. He is concerned that she will depart from earth without the two having reconciled over his marriage to Rachel. Nick’s mother, Eleanor, is focued on having Su Yi leave her home, Tyersall Part to Nick. She is insistent on the meeting between the two. Just like Eleanor, other members of the Shan-Young also follow sought as they see Su Yi’s favor before she succumbs to the illness. 

Unfortunately, Nick is unable to see Su Yi as his cousin, Eddie Cheng, is also keenly looking to acquire and inherit their grandmother’s estate. Eddie is calculated in his approach to deceive Nick and other members of the family that Su Yi has no intention of seeing Nick. However, while in cardiac intensive care, Nick is able to sneak into the estate and speak with her grandmother. The meeting occurs thereby frustrating Eddie who is obsessed with status thereby behaving shamelessly. 

Su Yi soon dies and her death spells doom for Eddie whose only inheritance is a pair of cufflinks. For Nick and Alistair, his cousin, alongside Su Yi’s four daughters and a son (Nick’s father), they are left in charge of Tyersall Park. The estate boasts 64 acres and is worth billions. A billionaire, Jack Bing, proposes to buy the property; but Nick is sentimental connection to the estate makes him reluctant about accepting the offer. In order to maintain the estate’s prestige, Nick collaborates with a group of investors who buy shares and turn the park into a museum and hotel. The story ends with Nick and Rachel having a baby while dealing with Eleanor, who is not short of drama as she is always meddling and pushing the two to produce a grandchild. 

Story Analysis 

The story centers around the death of Su Yi whose departure from earth means the likelihood of a scuffle among relatives who are in close pursuit of shares in Tyersall Park. Eddie’s conniving and manipulative nature is evidence enough of the lengths to which he and others can go to, just to acquire wealth. Of importance to Eddie is the status that comes along with being left the inheritance. However, Nick’s reserved and potentially disinterested attitude toward his grandmother’s estate signals, at least, the desire to break-away from the bullish impact of living in such excesses of wealth. 

Nick’s sentimental connection to Tyersall Park reveals his reservations toward taking advantage of the inheritance left to him. Kwan does not leave his readers hanging as he manipulates Eddie’s character presenting him in a ridiculous manner despite his luxurious state. To some extent, the book is entirely bespoke especially when it focuses on lavish vacation spots, and generally, the kind of life that these characters are afforded. It seems like Kwan is targeting a particular group of readers, in this case, those who are as status-obsessed as Eddie. In reality, the ultra-rich are not as subtle with how they present themselves in society. Rather, they are outspoken and believe that what they say is right. 

Therefore, for an ordinary reader, there is the likelihood of one being bombarded with information such as a rundown of what each character is wearing from top to bottom. A focus on such information depicts Kwan as being seemingly engrained toward advertising the life of the ultra-rich, or simply being bold in his approach to defame them. The book reveals a sharp contrast, especially with Eddie, concerning the status that he boasts which rans counter his behavior. Away from the drama of the obscenely rich, Kwan does well with the atmosphere and setting. 


Kwan gets various things right as he communicates to his audience about the influence of being ultra-wealthy. He brazenly describes the insolence and narrow-mindedness that is the outcome of having too much money and living a gold-plated lifestyle without having earned it.  However, Kwan runs the risk of having underdeveloped characters whose personalities are structured to create drama. Unfortunately, the characters of Nick and Rachel are not as developed, as they are swamped in the drama of the other characters. Therefore, it becomes increasingly challenging to imagine their lives post the said book if at all Kwan is going to intrigue his follower with another compilation.

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