Study Guide

Nick Young in Crazy Rich Asians

By Kevin Kwan

Nick Young

Young, beautiful, smart, cultured, well-mannered, and "richer than God" (1.18.74).

That is Nick Young.

Nick is also in love with Rachel Chu. So in love he's ready to bring her home to meet his family and eventually marry her. With that said, essentially all the drama in this entire book is his fault. Had he just not been so in love, none of this would have ever happened!

But before we get carried away blaming those who totally don't deserve it, let's move on…

Where does Nick's richer-than-thou lineage come from? Well, he's Singaporean and the favorite grandson of Shang Su Yi and the late Sir James Young, both of whom assembled quite a fortune either in their lifetimes or inherited it from generations before. The Youngs come from a long line of royal court physicians, and they're seemingly good people: "James was not the sort of person who cared about making a fortune. He was too busy saving lives in World War II" (2.16.43). The Shangs have held a monopoly on the shipping lines for a couple centuries (NBD) and are rumored to have gotten the really good money from dealing opium back in the day. Hmm, less great.

We don't learn quite as much about Nick's mother's lineage except she's a Sung sister, considered "so vain and materialistic," and generally not well-liked by her husband's family (3.8.20).

Nick is also the only son of the only son of Shang Su Yi. There appears to be a large inheritance in his future.

How the Money Makes the Man

We see from a young age that he's not enchanted with the trappings of his wealthy upbringing, especially in the way his cousin Edison is. In the opening of the book, Nick is described as "an unusually composed eight-year-old boy," which is a character trait of Nick's that changes very little as he ages (P.2).

His parents sent him to all the right schools, including Oxford in the UK, and he subsequently has become "Westernized" to the chagrin of his mother. (If only because it's inconvenient to her when she wants a son who isn't too Westernized.)

Nick lives a modest, "if not downright frugal" life in New York City as a professor struggling for tenure at NYU (2.6.3). His chosen lifestyle is markedly different from the one in which he was raised, which gives an indication that the childhood he had was merely that: a life he once lived. As Rachel even notes, "the only splurges she had known Nick to make were on overpriced produce" and "good seats to a concert" (2.6.3).

He's a terribly good friend to Colin Khoo, their friendship going back to when they were eight years old and Nick was found in a ditch at the hands of Bernard Tai (check him out here). Despite Colin's struggles with depression and anxiety, Nick has stood by him and always will. They are the bestest of friends.

Overall Nick seems pretty perfect. No wonder all the single ladies are after him!

Hang on a second…

Not-So-Perfect Nick

Nick is stupidly ignorant of his family's wealth and what it means to be a part of his family. Like, ignorant to a makes-you-want-to-grab-him-and-shake-him level. He brings Rachel to meet the whole fam and ignores warnings from Astrid and Colin to prepare Rachel for what is about to happen. In the end, he brings Rachel into the "viper's nest" and it nearly ruins their relationship (3.15.26).

While his ignorance isn't willful and is generally innocent, it takes a pretty big toll on Rachel. Not only does go through a (kinda mild) physical toll when she faints, but she has to deal with the emotions of finding out from a woman who hires private investigators that she has a father she never knew she had.

Additionally, other than whisking Colin away to Australia at his bachelor party and flying to California to get Kerry Chu, Nick takes very little action in this book. Most of the events are the result of the women around him doing things to him or Rachel. While he's a nice guy, he's pretty privileged in that he mostly just stands around and looks pretty for an entire book. Sheesh, we want that life.

So why don't we hate Nick at the end of the book?

In the end, Nick comes to realize the problems with his family and chooses to love Rachel rather than subscribe to his family's crazy, specifically the "Rich, Entitled, Delusional Chinese Families" kind of crazy (3.16.2). And we'd support that choice any day.