Maddie's Reviews > Dreams of Joy

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
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's review
Apr 25, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: historical, own

Dreams of Joy is the sequel to See's book Shanghai Girls [spoilers for this first book].

In Shanghai Girls two sisters, Pearl and May, escape China while Japan invades in World War II and travel to American to meet their arranged-marriage husbands. They work hard and adapt to life in California but it is a hard life with a family they feel is below them. The book (another great read) spans almost 2 decades and ends with Joy learning that the mother who raised her (Pearl) is actually her aunt and that the woman she's known as her aunt (May) is actually her mother. So she decides to run communist China which a radical student group at college has told her is great - Communist China is where everyone has enough but not too much and gets a puppy (or something like that).

This is where Dreams of Joy picks up. She reaches China and Pearl is heading there to retrieve her. Joy goes in part to escape from guilt she feels about her father's (who it turns out wasn't her father)death, to escape Pearl and May, and meet her real father, an artist named Z.G.

See does an excellent job in Dreams of Joy depicting this confusing time period. People (Americans and Chinese) had trouble really understanding each other (and themselves!) culturally and politically. Mao's China was supposed to bring equality between the classes and the genders but this promise is hollow. Scare tactics are used to keep Americans away from China, China away from Americans, and the Chinese away from other Chinese. It was (is?) a time in China when one false step could easily lead to your denunciation and death.

It would be interesting to know if this book is allowed in China today.

Disclaimer: I won my copy of this book through a giveaway contest through GoodReads.

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