Friday, October 24, 2008

The Joy Luck Club

Book Review

The Joy Luck Club - Amy Tan

This book is about Chinese immigrants in America written by a Chinese immigrant in America. Often misconstrued to be an exact representation of her own life, this book tells the stories of four Chinese mothers and their four daughters growing up in America. Told through sixteen vignettes in which each character speaks for herself, except for Suyaan Woo who dies before the novel opens, the book provides an insight into the previously under represented lives of people from a certain ethnic background adapting to life in America.
All four mothers share a similar past, having fled from China during the Japanese invasion towards the end of the Second World War, and the four daughters share similar pains of growing up in American circumstances, but constantly reminded of their Chinese heritage by mothers who are not ready to let go of their past. The daughters undergo the familiar suffocating pain of being caught amidst conflicting cultures, while the mothers struggle to come to terms with their past. The togetherness of these women is felt by the reader rather than seen by the women themselves, especially the daughters. Each separate vignette could stand alone and be complete as a story, but the combination of all these fragments is what brings out the true meaning of the book and makes it hold universal appeal. Deceptively simple, the subtle interlinking of the different narratives is full of implied meaning as it lays bare the lives of these women, unraveling their secrets and their innermost thoughts.
The book is intensely personal, with each character pouring out their heart to the reader, and holding them in a spell until the last page is turned.
The book lends an insight into a culture that has remained a relative mystery, in spite of the country being one of our closest neighbours. The book becomes doubly interesting as it explores mother-daughter relationships amidst an alien culture and moreover shows how human emotions are binding and relevant in spite of all other differences.
A critically acclaimed book as well as a bestseller, this book is a must read for all ages.

No comments: