The Joy Luck Club

Author: Amy Tan
Publisher: Penguin
Star Rating: 4/5
Date Read: September 30th to October 4th, 2013
Review:
The Joy Luck Club is another one of those books I’ve been meaning to read for ages, but without really knowing anything about it, and have finally gotten around to it after buying a slightly battered copy from an op shop (for $1!). The Joy Luck Club is a beautiful and tragic and interesting collection of stories of four interwoven mothers-and-daughters, who together form The Joy Luck Club where they play mah jong and gossip and compare daughters. Each daughter causes her mother to shake her head, and each daughter feels the same way about her mother. There is such a culture divide, even though the daughters are Chinese too, between the American raised daughters and the Chinese raised mothers, that they often have trouble making connections and understanding each other. It is only when Jing-mei’s mother dies that she realises, too late, all the things her mother had to teach her, all the things she never wanted to listen to.

This was written different to what I thought it would be. Instead of a flowing novel, we get snippets of the lives of the women in the novel, from their childhoods, in China and in America, and throughout their lives. It’s interesting to see the contrast between the mothers and daughters. What was the same, however, is how each mother feels misunderstood by her daughter, and each daughter feels misunderstood by her mother. I found it sad how neither seem to reconcile this fact and how both seem incapable to changing it. I would hope the daughters might learn from Jing-mei how much they had to lose, and as mothers make not the same mistakes their own mothers did.

Still, who am I to understand how the relationship between Chinese women and their Chinese-American daughters (who identify more as American than Chinese) work? It is easy for me to stand so far away and identify the flaws, when I don’t know how hard it would be to change.

All in all, a good read that left me with a tear in my eye by the end!

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