Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

by Helen Zhang

The Joy Luck Club tells the stories of four different Chinese immigrant mothers and their daughters, who meet periodically in the Joy Luck Club to play mah jong, talk, and eat good food. It is divided into four sections, with four anecdotes per section, alternating between mother and daughter. The mothers tell stories of growing up in China, of the sexism they faced when subordinated to men, of losing themselves and finding themselves again, and of the culture and traditions of China. They worry that their daughters will never be able to understand some aspects of Chinese culture that were so important to them when growing up.

The four daughters also talk about the individual problems they faced in both their past and present lives. While they reject or push away the Chinese traditions and lessons of their mothers in trying to adopt a more American lifestyle, they ultimately rely on their mothers' words for support when faced with issues in their own adult lives. The novel is a classic story of cultural identity and assimilating to a new culture.

Personally, I really liked this novel because I am a 2nd generation Chinese myself, so I could relate very well to the daughters. I feel very conflicted with my cultural identity as well, and I believe that this story portrays the conflict very well. The stories were very compelling, and it was especially nice to read the stories of the mothers' childhoods, living in China in the 1900's. It is a relatively easy to understand and compelling novel that touches upon very important issues and has a lot of depth. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, as it increases cultural awareness and one's overall understanding of the world.

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