What do you think?
Rate this book
352 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1989
I loved how Amy Tan portrayed those relationships, each was unique which its special hardships and difficulties but also joys and humor. I found it very realistic and sometimes relatable in a way. The daughters and their mothers are within the same society, so we also saw their interactions with each other and that was interesting by itself. I surely preferred some daughters over others but all were flawed and well-written.
It's actually one of the few audiobooks I'd recommend reading instead of listening to the audio. I got confused sometimes remembering who's who since all of the characters were told in the same voice and sometimes I missed the transition. Like I mentioned before, we had several timelines and multiple characters and I'm not gonna lie, I couldn't distinguish who's whom sometimes until I was well into the book. However, if you're like me, prefer to listen to fiction as audio and read other genres, then I think it's still worth a try because I enjoyed it anyhow. Something I should mention is that there are two editions of the audiobook, one narrated by the author (but uncomplete, at least on overdrive) and another read by Gwendoline Yeo. The second is your one. I compared the two narrations and honestly, Yeo's was better.
Even the old ladies had put on their best clothes to celebrate: Mama's aunt, Baba's mother and her cousin, and Great-uncle's fat wife, who still plucked her forehead bald and always walked as if she were crossing a slippery stream, two tiny steps and a scared lookThis is surely an intimation, from a child's perspective, that the woman has bound feet. The treatment of An-Mei's mother, who has become a concubine to a rich man after being widowed, illuminates some of the distinctive features of (pre-communist) Chinese heteropatriarchy. However, Tan is not about to aid the cause of USian supremacy and White saviourism by setting stories like this against a mythical American equality; her depictions of marriages and relationships in the US reveal a different but hardly better situation for women, especially Chinese/immigrant women for whom White husbands feel entitled to speak.
One day, as she struggled to weave a hard-toothed comb through my disobedient hair, I had a sly thought. I asked her 'Ma, what is Chinese torture?' My mother shook her head. A bobby pin was wedged between her lips. She wetted her palm and smoothed the hair above my ear, then pushed the pin in so that it nicked sharply against my scalp. 'Who say this word?' she asked without a trace of knowing how wicked I was being. I shrugged my shoulders and said 'Some boy in my class said Chinese people do Chinese torture.' 'Chinese people do many things,' she said simply. 'Chinese people do business, do medicine, do painting. Not lazy like American people. We do torture. Best torture.'This kind of intimate mockery is hilarious, but a risky thing to gift to an outsider like me. I had the feeling that I must be careful not to generalise beyond time, place and particularity, to find myself thinking 'I know this about Chinese mothers, because I read it in The Joy Luck Club'. Another difficulty I had was with disturbing aspects of anti-Blackness and homophobia which I wanted to chase up, but which had to be let drop, presumably for the next generation, the grandaughters, to decolonise. I enjoyed, on the other hand, the wry laughs minted from the thoughtlessness self centredness of ignorant White men.