Review: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Amy Tan’s novel The Joy Luck Club was a pleasure to read!The Joy Luck Club

Here is the blurb from GoodReads:

Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who’s “saying” the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. “To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable.” Forty years later the stories and history continue.  With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined. Mothers boast or despair over daughters, and daughters roll their eyes even as they feel the inextricable tightening of their matriarchal ties. Tan is an astute storyteller, enticing readers to immerse themselves into these lives of complexity and mystery.

Amy Tan’s wonderful talent is in the details.  Whether describing the ongoings of her characters’ minds or the vividity of her older characters’ backstories it is Tan’s attention to detail that brings this book to life.  This book spans many years and deals with the intimacies of two generations of women.  The first generation, the four mothers, grew up in China and lived lives vastly different from their American born daughters.  Their stories show not only where they came from before immigrating to America but also the circumstances under which their identities were moulded.  I loved reading these sections about their lives in a China of long ago.

The second generation, the four daughters, are American born and live in a world so different from that of their mothers that misunderstandings between them occur often.  This book is about how mothers and daughters try to show each other love, support, and acceptance through a lens of cultural difference.  Through their interactions they learn from each other about what it means to be Chinese as well as American, finding ways to meet in middle ground.  Ultimately this is a story of mothers and daughters trying to connect with one another even though they often don’t understand each other, but it is also about acceptance and forgiveness.  There is some heartache, disappointment, and even unhappiness for all the women at some point.  There is a blending of cultures.  There is discovery and enlightenment for both generations.  There is also some joy and luck for these women.

I really enjoyed this book.  It left me thinking about the relationships in my own life and how, despite any differences, we should always work to have a deep and forgiving relationship with our mothers and daughters, to try to understand them for who they are outside of their roles as mother and daughter.


lilolia review rating 4 stars great



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