The Joy Luck Club: A Novel
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Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who's "saying" the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. "To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable." Forty years later the stories and history continue.
With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined. Mothers boast or despair over daughters, and daughters roll their eyes even as they feel the inextricable tightening of their matriarchal ties. Tan is an astute storyteller, enticing readers to immerse themselves into these lives of complexity and mystery.
chopsticks clinked against the insides of bowls being emptied into hungry mouths. I walked into my room, closed the door, and lay down on my bed. The room was dark, the ceiling filled with shadows from the dinnertime lights of neighboring flats. In my head, I saw a chessboard with sixty-four black and white squares. Opposite me was my opponent, two angry black slits. She wore a triumphant smile. “Strongest wind cannot be seen,” she said. Her black men advanced across the plane, slowly marching
over again, it dove and popped back up again, empty but still hopeful. And then, after a dozen or so times, it was sucked into the dark recess, and when it came out, it was torn and lifeless. At that moment, and not until that moment, did she give up. My mother had a look on her face that I’ll never forget. It was one of complete despair and horror, for losing Bing, for being so foolish as to think she could use faith to change fate. And it made me angry—so blindingly angry—that everything had
never seen that face before. I looked at my reflection, blinking so I could see more clearly. The girl staring back at me was angry, powerful. This girl and I were the same. I had new thoughts, willful thoughts, or rather thoughts filled with lots of won’ts. I won’t let her change me, I promised myself. I won’t be what I’m not. So now on nights when my mother presented her tests, I performed listlessly, my head propped on one arm. I pretended to be bored. And I was. I got so bored I started
I worried that Harold would someday get a new prescription for his glasses and he’d put them on one morning, look me up and down, and say, “Why, gosh, you aren’t the girl I thought you were, are you?” And I think that feeling of fear never left me, that I would be caught someday, exposed as a sham of a woman. But recently, a friend of mine, Rose, who’s in therapy now because her marriage has already fallen apart, told me those kinds of thoughts are commonplace in women like us. “At first I
off both my arms without anesthesia, without sewing me back up. “Have you ever had them torn off with anesthesia? God! I’ve never seen you so hysterical,” said Waverly. “You want my opinion, you’re better off without him. It hurts only because it’s taken you fifteen years to see what an emotional wimp he is. Listen, I know what it feels like.” To my friend Lena, I said I was better off without Ted. After the initial shock, I realized I didn’t miss him at all. I just missed the way I felt when I