“The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan
From the story of a mother being forced to leave her baby twins behind on the side of the road while fleeing for her life during World War II, to the tale of a young girl who becomes a chess prodigy in San Francisco’s Chinatown, there is not a story/page/sentence in Amy Tan’s 1989 novel, “The Joy Luck Club,” that isn’t riveting.
This, my friends, is one hell of a read.
At times funny, sometimes heart-breaking, but always moving and engrossing, I’m deeply sorry it took me 30 years to read it. But maybe I was destined to read it now – that I’m a mom and am daily seeing new generations grow. Who knows?
“The Joy Luck Club” centers on four Chinese-American immigrant families in San Francisco. Three mothers and four daughters (one mother dies before the action begins) tell their respective life stories, and it becomes a tale of family vs. individuality, the old vs. the new, and crumbling family traditions in a modern day and age. All the women are flawed, but also lovely and clever and tell tales that reach beyond simply just being “Chinese.” Everyone can relate to someone in these stories. Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the story of Lindo’s arranged marriage and subsequent scheming to get free of her silly husband and his family demands on her to have his child, even though the marriage had never been consummated – or Ying-Ying’s story about the Moon Festival. My heart was broken by a few tales, too – namely Rose-Hsu’s story of the death of her younger brother.
It’s all good. Every page of it.
“The Joy Luck Club,” which (by the way) was Tan’s debut novel, has been a bestseller, translated into 35 languages, and made into a successful feature film. It’s not hard to find. Do yourself a favor and go find it.
Also, I promise to read more Amy Tan.