I really enjoyed “The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan. Reading it in my thirties with children of my own, I feel like this was the perfect stage in life to read this book.
The book is about relationships between mothers and daughters. It was a book about living as an immigrant in a foreign land, and raising children who have taken on the identity of the foreign culture they are born into. It was about the comparing and contrasting of those parents upbringing and their children growing up in a very different way.
The structure of the book are four mothers and four daughters, each chapter telling a different person’s story at different ages and in different countries. It is a very unique way of storytelling that is hard to follow exactly whose story is being told and that is the point. That these Chinese immigrants with American children do not really fit in with the new culture they have joined, but also their children do not really understand their parents’ stories and where they have come from, and then as time moves each person farther from their story of origin that place changes and their previous home no longer recognizes them. The Joy Luck Club becomes their only place of belonging, characterized by their shared life experiences and their similar personal history.
Themes of belonging, family, home, foreign, understanding one another, parenting versus childhood all abound throughout the book. There is a lot of interesting avenues to explore each story and their personal journey. I think what the story arrives at is a place of empathy and understanding of one another, especially of family members that we don’t really know until some of the family’s unspoken truths come to light, usually after a family member’s passing.