I am SO HAPPY to be participating in A More Diverse Universe right now. It’s offered me an opportunity to FINALLY get something off my TBR pile. A few months ago, I won a copy of The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan from Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall. I’ve read several Amy Tan novels and enjoyed them immensely, but I felt rather ridiculous knowing that I hadn’t read her most famous work, The Joy Luck Club. I mean, you say “Amy Tan” and that’s what you think, right? I was determined to tackle this one. So determined, in fact, that I chose it for my IRL book club this month as well. I am nothing if not efficient. Well. Efficient, or lazy. One of the two.
In case you were living under a rock like I apparently have been, The Joy Luck Club is a novel about mothers and daughters. Four Chinese women emigrate to the United States and settle in San Francisco. Each of the women goes on to have a daughter (or several) to raise in the US. The mothers and daughters struggle to understand one another through clashing cultures.
The book is divided into four major sections, two devoted to the stories of the mothers and two devoted to the stories of the daughters. If I’m being honest (and really, when am I not honest?) I found myself flipping back and forth through the chapters to connect which mother belonged to which daughter. Learning a bit about each mother’s childhood and not realizing right away which daughters’ life they were connected to frustrated me a little bit, hence the flipping. Still, a bit of page flipping didn’t dampen what was an excellent story.
The daughters in The Joy Luck Club had a heck of a time trying to live up to the expectations of their mothers while growing up in a world with vastly different values. The mothers were desperate to impart the complexities and nuances of Chinese culture to their offspring, but communication styles differed so vastly between the two cultures that conflict was inevitable.
I can’t help but assume this book, with its emphasis on mother/daughter communication was heavily influenced by Amy Tan’s life. The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Tan was raised with one foot in each of two worlds, Chinese and American. After reading her bio, I am seeing parallels all up in this piece! Here’s a little about Amy Tan written by the lady herself:
Amy was born in the United States in 1952, a few years after her parents immigrated from China. Her father, John, was an electrical engineer and also a Baptist minister. Her mother, Daisy, left behind a secret past, including three daughters in China and the ghost of her mother, who had killed herself when Daisy was nine. The Tan family belonged to a small social group called The Joy Luck Club, whose families enacted the immigrant version of the American Dream by playing the stock market. Nearly every year, the Tan family moved, from one mixed neighborhood in Oakland after another and eventually to a series of nearly all-white suburbs in the Bay Area.
Let’s chat, Bookworms. Mother/daughter clashes are certainly nothing extraordinary, as virtually every mother who has raised a daughter through her teenage years can attest. It’s time to air the dirty laundry. What is the dumbest fight your teenage self ever had with your mom? Mine involves an impassioned request for a drum set… When I’d never actually played the drums… So. Yeah. Spill!
*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I’ll use it to buy my mother a thank-you gift for, well, dealing with me. I was an especially morose teenager…*