In 1949, four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. With wit and wisdom, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between these four women and their American-born daughters. As each reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined…
Author: Amy Tan | Series: None | Format: Audiobook | Narrated by: Gwendoline Yeo | Length: 9 hours, 5 mins | Publish Date: September 21, 2006 | Genre: Cultural Fiction | Literary Awards: California Book Award Gold Medal for Fiction (1989), Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Fiction (1989), Northern California Book Awards for Fiction (1989), National Book Critics Circle Award Nominee for Fiction (1989), National Book Award Finalist for Fiction (1989) | Rated: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ | Recommend: HECK YES
“And then it occurs to me. They are frightened. In me, they see their own daughters, just as ignorant, just as unmindful of all the truths and hopes they have brought to America. They see daughters who grow impatient when their mothers talk in Chinese, who think they are stupid when they explain things in fractured English. They see that joy and luck do not mean the same to their daughters, that to these closed American-born minds “joy luck” is not a word, it does not exist. They see daughters who will bear grandchildren born without any connecting hope passed from generation to generation.”
This is actually a reread for me, and I was lucky enough to read this for one of my book clubs: Young Women who Book Hampton Roads. If you’re on Facebook and in the Hampton Roads area, check them out and come to our next meeting!
This book is one of the best books about mother-daughter relationships that I’ve ever read. In this book, it is the relationship between four mothers from mainland China, forced to come to the United States after a devastating war that took away everything they held dear, and their four daughters born in America. While all eight women are Chinese and are close to one another in their lives, they all have their own personalities, strengths, and weaknesses that make them into one complete family.
Each of the mothers – Suyuan, An-Mei, Lindo, and Ying-Ying – have colored and heartbreaking pasts that shaped the type of women they came to be. Everything that we find out about them in this book shows us how these events made them into the mothers they are today, and why they decided to raise their daughters the way they did. The only one that doesn’t get to tell her own story in the traditional sense is Suyuan because she died before the book began.
The daughters – June, Lina, Waverly, and Rose – reminisce about what it was like growing up as a Chinese-American woman, and let us into their lives as adults. While their troubles are not as extreme or dangerous as what their mothers went through, they are still learning how to be Chinese women in an American world. Even though they were born in America, they are still taught Chinese values and it is up to them whether or not they choose to continue following them.
“A girl is like a young tree, she said. You must stand tall and listen to your mother standing next to you. That is the only way to grow strong and straight. But if you bend to listen to other people, you will grow crooked and weak. You will fall to the ground with the first strong wind. And then you will be like a weed, growing wild in any direction, running along the ground until someone pulls you out and throws you away. ”
I absolutely love this book no matter how many times I read it. In each woman, I can see elements of myself, my mother, and my grandmother. My mom and grandma are both strong women that have gone through so much heartache and pain and only came out stronger in the end. I can only wish that I can have even a part of their strength. I think every single person should read this book, even if you aren’t part Chinese, even if you aren’t a woman. I think everyone can appreciate this book and find some strength in it.
She has written several other books, including The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, and The Bonesetter’s Daughter, and a collection of non-fiction essays entitled The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings. Her most recent book, Saving Fish From Drowning, explores the tribulations experienced by a group of people who disappear while on an art expedition into the jungles of Burma. In addition, Tan has written two children’s books: The Moon Lady (1992) and Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat (1994), which was turned into an animated series airing on PBS. She has also appeared on PBS in a short spot on encouraging children to write.
Currently, she is the literary editor for West, Los Angeles Times’ Sunday magazine.