Once upon a time, I was a seventh grader and for the first time in my life I was introduced to something called a literature text book. The first story we took back then was an excerpt from the Joy Luck Club, and even though I honestly don’t know what made it stand out to my friends and I, the bunch of us went around looking for it. Luckily, this year –6 YEARS LATER, I managed to get my hands on a used copy of it at the National Book Fair and couldn’t believe my eyes. Needless to say, I lunged right into it.
I read this a couple of months ago, and it took me about a month to get through because I was quite busy with school while reading it. This actually affected the overall experience. The book starts out with several Chinese families, and the story is told from the points of view of each mother and daughter, giving us at least 7 narrators –if my memory doesn’t fail me– and it drove me absolutely insane. Had I read it over a short time and kept track on a piece of paper or something what happened to each of the mothers in comparison to each of the daughters, things might’ve gone a bit more smoothly. But I didn’t realise that until it was too late.
The story is deeply rooted into Chinese mythology and legends and had I had better background on the topic, I’m sure the book would’ve worked out better for me.
Aside from the technical difficulties faced, I thought the book was absolutely stunning. It was depressing most of the time, especially the stories told by the mothers. It showed how much strength a woman is capable of unleashing when necessary and how much emotional turmoil can help you grow and how the growth is directly proportional to the suffering.
I loved that it showed different kinds of suffering as well. Sure, what the daughters find problematic with growing up in America can hardly ever amount up to what the mothers went through during the war. Yet, the mothers always showed support and didn’t try to make light of their daughter’s troubles.
My favourite story of them all was the one about the candle, and if I say more, I might ruin it for you. But that was one that filled me with awe and pain and made me so proud of the central character, it almost killed me.
I think this is the kind of book you’ll have to reread to completely grasp and I can see myself doing so in the foreseeable future.
If you want to read a book that is about women, that isn’t mushy or about love and romance, that is predominantly about culture, tradition, and family and their importance, then please give this book a try. It’s beautiful and penetrates into many of the aspects that make us human and make each individual, well… individual.
I hope you’re having a wonderful time, whether you’re doing a readathon or reading at your own pace or even chilling out at the beach.
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