Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Joy Luck Club - Amy Tan

I've seen the movie "The Joy Luck Club" at least a dozen times. It reminds me of my family, always makes me cry, and I absolutely love it. I've put off reading the book for so many years because I worried it wouldn't live up to the movie (the opposite of my usual problem). But, this past weekend, I took the plunge. The Joy Luck Club is about two generations of Chinese-American women. The first four women are first-generation Americans who have made the difficult trek from China, escaping bad marriages, abandoning children, or otherwise leaving with only their secrets. The second four women are the daughters of these women - American-born Chinese - with the weight of their mothers' high expectations and best intentions on their shoulders. Each chapter of the book is a vignette from a different woman's life. There is so much about culture and obligation, as well as mother-daughter relationships, relationships with men, and how to find yourself and maintain your voice in a world that is constantly trying to silence you. I cried and laughed in the book at the same parts I cry and laugh at during the movie. It was hard for me to figure out if I would have loved this book as much if I had read it without the voices of the actors in my head - particularly Waverley's mom and the scene where the white boyfriend pours soy sauce all over the mom's prized Chinese dish - but it doesn't really matter. It was a great read that brought back fond memories of my own grandmother. This is actually the first Amy Tan book I've ever read - and I have The Kitchen God's Wife next to me as I write this update. I am very happy to discover a new (for me) author who writes about the kinds of families and themes I truly love.

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