Rating: 4/5 stars.
Those of you who read this blog are most likely aware that my relationship with my mother is not all bouncing bunnies and beautiful butterflies. As an American-born son raised with traditionally Asian standards, my childhood has been filled with conflicts resulting in screaming matches and bountiful tears. So reading The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan was quite the vicarious experience – though I am not Chinese nor a daughter, I could connect to several of the themes that ran throughout the novel.
The interweaving vignettes that comprise the book are too intricate to explain completely without writing a long review, but the book is basically about four Chinese women who immigrate to San Francisco. They have all endured great hardship but are each hopeful about their futures as well as their daughters’ futures. Through sixteen short stories we are able to view major events in their lives that have shaped their mindsets, their worlds, and their relationships with one another.
Amy Tan’s writing is devastatingly simple. Her diction is not all that convoluted, but the drama and tension she manages to create through her choice of words is astounding. After reading certain sentences and phrases I stopped and thought dang. That was deep. Indeed, Tan’s deceptively simple writing style is realistic and piercing and poignant all at once.
The theme that struck me the most while reading the novel was the inter-generational loss that afflicted the characters. The misunderstandings that occurred and all the things that were lost in translation were truly tragic – and still are tragic in contemporary society. However, after finishing the book and tearing up at the bittersweet endings, I’ve come to the conclusion that what really matters is the love one feels for their child and the longing to leave one’s legacy with their son or daughter in order for them to succeed.
While I had difficulty discerning the characters from one another while reading the book – I had to constantly reference the front section to keep myself from utter confusion – overall I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a bittersweet story about Chinese culture or the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters.