Thomas's Reviews > The Joy Luck Club

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
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's review
Aug 23, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: own-physical, lit-outside-of-school, historical-fiction, adult-fiction
Recommended to Thomas by: Esther
Read from April 09 to 15, 2012

Those of you who read my 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.

*cross-posted from my blog, the quiet voice.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Thomas I guess we have a new Adv Comp topic to talk about. :)

John Oh, I just adored this book. Tan's writing really captures the essence of life - if that makes sense. She gets what she writes about in the most honest way.

Thomas I agree, she really knows where she's coming from and keeps her writing sincere without sounding preachy or pretentious.

John I love authors with prose like Tan's. I do tend to love stories with characters of Asian descent, too, which makes me a bit biased.

Thomas Ditto. I need to read more books with Asian characters...

Ms.pegasus Great review. You are right about the characters. I had to start over and made a chart to keep the characters and their daughters straight. This problem, however, is as you say overshadowed by the beauty and strength of the writing.

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