Four generations of Chinese woman parade through your heart and imagination with this wonderful book by Amy Tan. It’s probably the best known of all of her novels and perhaps her best. It’s a semi-autobiographical family history that reveals itself through the eyes of the modern Chinese-American woman, Rose Hsu Jordan.
Like any other mother-daughter, intergenerational novel, The Joy Luck Club provides the reader with insights to their own issues. It’s easy to identify with each of the women when we are peeking inside their respective heads. Each woman gains insight into her own mother’s plights only after having their own mature daughter struggle against them. It’s a story as old as history itself. The reader is lead from one generation to another through the vignettes told through the eyes of each woman. It works perfectly as a literary device as well to keep the reader on edge and interested as the collective story unfolds.
Amy Tan does a wonderful job here. We feel the pain as well as the joy, the tears along with the laughter. She manages to tell the story as the Chinese-American woman that she is. As she says in her novel, “Once you are born Chinese, you cannot help but feel and think Chinese." Yet, clearly, there are difference even between mother and daughter. Politics and geography aside, there are few differences between any of us. We all have strong emotions, often hidden beneath a placid exterior of what society expects of us. We can either recognize the consequence of our choices and actions, or not. Fear is always a factor, whether it is the fear of poverty or of being alone and unloved. These are universal themes that play out beautifully in this emotionally-charged novel. All handled with grace and talent by Ms. Tan.