The debate over the authenticity of Buck's portrayal of rural life in China of 100 years ago will never end. I don't believe it is essential to the bo...moreThe debate over the authenticity of Buck's portrayal of rural life in China of 100 years ago will never end. I don't believe it is essential to the books story.
This is a story of the rewards of hard work, strong ethics, common sense and conviction. It is the story of what happens when those rewards come. How wealth, even when gained honestly and through hard effort, corrupts and destroys families and values, when it is not placed in the proper context of life. It is the story of oppression of women and its negative effects on society and family. There is only one person who handles wealth and hard work well. That person is O-Lan, she is, in my opinion, the hero of the book.
The culture, time and country that this story plays out is secondary to the message of the book. (less)
I found this book to be hilarious. A real joy to read and I know it will bring many people back in time to their own families.
Although this book is n...moreI found this book to be hilarious. A real joy to read and I know it will bring many people back in time to their own families.
Although this book is not for everyone. Anyone who has not experienced this type of family dynamic and does not understand what is going on between the words will be put off by this book.
For those people who grew up in families with cultures (typically the dad) that expresses their emotions and feelings through a tough self-serving veneer, they will fully understand and relate to this book and the real person who is Justin Halpern's Dad.
I know some said this is the persona of an ex military person. I don't think this is his military side. The tone is different then military gruffness. Some people said his dad is uncaring.. I don't think so either. I believe his dad is emotionally and socially immature. A common affliction for some males of the dad's generation from cultural backgrounds that discourage expressions of emotion. His intelligence, over time, taught him how to hide his lack of social grace to the outside world. But to those he is closest to he lets his guards down and his lack of social and emotional IQ shines.
For his Dad the persona he conveys to his family is a veneer of toughness that hides emotion, anxiety and concern. Yes, his dad, I am sure, is self serving and self centered but he is also caring. His caring is shown, but not in the way that people are taught to expect in average American homes.
I have known many friends that had Dad's like Justin's. The Dad comes off as crude and many people may wonder how a researcher in nuclear medicine could be so crude. Knowing many people like Justin's Dad, I suspect he only shows this side to his family and closest friends. His professional contacts would be totally surprised to hear him speak and act this way. They typically convey a split image of themselves. One to family and close people and one for the rest of the world. Justin Helpern, did not highlight this aspect of his dad, I suspect, because most likely he rarely got to see the professional side of his dad.
While I suspect these stories were embellished for reader reaction, the basic dynamic in the family is real and does occur, it is not mean spirited but cultural. While I suspect at times it unnerved Justin, like it did my friends, while growing up most children learned over time to accept and understand their father... warts and all. And to understand there is caring beneath the surface.
It is a enjoyable read, as long as the reader does not take the Dad's "words of wisdom" literally or for what they seem to convey on the surface. For those readers who "understand" what is really happening in the family they can appreciate the book, accept the father and enjoy the crudeness for what it is really conveying... something very different.(less)