Book Review: The Joy Luck Club

By Ally

The Joy Luck Club

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Told by four Chinese mothers and each of their American-born daughters, Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan is an intriguing novel unlike any book you’ve read before. In the book, the four Chinese mothers were in the Joy Luck Club where they shared news, ate together, and played games to forget their worries in life.

Jing-mei Woo, an American-born daughter, kicked off the book with her story. Her mother had recently passed away, and she was expected to take her mother’s place at the Joy Luck Club meetings. Throughout the book, Jing-mei reflected on her and her mother’s relationship and the countless holes in their relationship that she was oblivious to.

Another mother-daughter duo in the book was An-mei Hsu and Rose Hsu Jordan. Despite their biological relationship, they were very different people, having different childhoods and different perspectives. Although they have many differences, they both have hardships in their lives that slowly connect them.

The next mother and daughter story was between Lindo and Waverly Jong. Lindo Jong, who lived a bitter and harsh childhood, sought a better life once she moved to America. She later had a girl named Waverly, a child chess prodigy, who brought boast and fame to her family, particularly her mother. However, after a family feud, their relationship collapsed and they were trying to repair it.

The last stories of the book are by Lena St. Clair and her mother Ying-Ying St. Clair. Their relationship may have been the most complicated. Throughout the entire book, they sought understanding between each other and reconciliation of their different cultures and beliefs.

Through eight different stories, some from China, and some from America, readers gain new insight into a world of family bonds and cultural conflicts and understanding. Joy Luck Club is a thought-provoking story about love and pain that will definitely leave you thinking more deeply about the intersection of family, culture, and communication.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (October 18, 2016), 352 pp.