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  • Esther Good

Review: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Updated: Jan 24

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck club follows the difficult relationships between four Chinese women and their American-born daughters.  The story opens as Jing-Mei takes her recently deceased mother’s place in the Joy Luck Club with her mother’s three friends, and laments that she never really knew her mother. Through a series of flashbacks, we see the events that shaped each of the mothers, and the struggle of the mother-daughter pairs as they try to relate to each other across their different cultures and life circumstances.  I found that some of the characters (particularly the daughters) blended together as they told strikingly similar stories, but overall it was a very pleasant read, and includes my new all-time favorite arranged marriage story.

Read this if:

  1. You’re looking for an enjoyable read with strong female characters.

  2. You have a mother or a daughter.

  3. You’d like some perspective about the intersection of Chinese and American cultures.

Favorite Quotes:

“What was worse, we asked among ourselves, to sit and wait for our own deaths with proper somber faces? Or to choose our own happiness?”

― Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club

“I think now that fate is half shaped by expectation, half by inattention. But somehow, when you lose something you love, faith takes over. You have to pay attention to what you lost. You have to undo the expectation.”

― Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club

“I once sacrificed my life to keep my parents’ promise. This means nothing to you, because to you promises mean nothing.”

― Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club

“And now at the airport, after shaking hands with everybody, waving good-bye, I think about all the different ways we leave people in this world. Cheerily waving good-bye to some at airports, knowing we’ll never see each other again. Leaving others on the side of the road, hoping that we will. Finding my mother in my father’s story and saying good-bye before I have a chance to know her better.”

― Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club



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