Jodi's Reviews > Dreams of Joy

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
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's review
Feb 21, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: books-about-china, books-in-a-series, historical-fiction
Recommended for: Everyone

I fell in love with this author's books after reading "Snowflower and the Secret Fan" and have gone on to read many more of her books! Definitely a good book and a look at life in Red China! This book looks at how in youth we may have ideals and have a fantasized view of the world but are too young to understand the reality of the world - this is definitely Joy in this book and no one can tell her any differently when she runs off to Communist China to help build the new government. I believe she immediately regrets it when she arrives, is forced to give up her American passport, and learns how hard things really are - especially seeing it all from American eyes. However, she feels she made her choice and sticks to it.

Even though Joy's mother escaped from China 20 years before, she returns to find Joy and endures much hardship too for the three years it takes them to escape back out of China. One of the first things that strikes Joy is the cold and lack of heat - I visited Beijing in the middle of January and even in 2009, there is not an overwhelming amount of central heat still in this country! I was certainly shocked to read of all the atrocities that the people were subjected to in the book during the 1950s - mass starvation, children left to die in ditches, selling babies to be eaten for food..............such a sad time for this country. What makes me even angrier is that the whole "idea" of communism is that everyone is equal but the government officials were eating lavishly and not affected at all by the extreme lack of food and poverty because the poor were doing all the work and receiving none of the benefits! That makes me so angry - China was no further ahead by the "new government" than when they had an emperor!

At the end of the book, I read the author's notes and was surprised to learn Lisa See got the idea for the book from Amy Tan who is another wonderful author who writes about China!

Another satisfying read! Write more please, Lisa!!

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