The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Review by Stephanie, 14 years old, from Lexington, MA

Bound together by their complicated and troubling pasts in China, the mothers of the Joy Luck Club believe in more than joy or luck. It is their strength that leads them to each other, away from their war-torn native land of China. Amidst the cultural transition of moving to San Francisco, the mothers struggle to instill traditional Chinese values in their daughters, who reject these beliefs and strive to discover who they really are. Although the book is a collection of multiple short stories, the narrative of June Woo bridges the gap between two generations of storytellers. Speaking for herself and her recently deceased mother, Suyuan, June struggles to understand her mother’s past, and in turn, realize the Chinese essence within herself. A book of broad appeal, the Joy Luck Club not only speaks to mothers and daughters, but also to people interested in the search for self-identity, which is beautifully woven into the story by master storyteller Amy Tan. After reading only the first few chapters of the book, I found myself immersed in a world in China and a world in America. Both were so much more extreme from my own, yet I could relate to the genuine values and hardships of each woman. At fourteen, it was interesting to see the different aspects of the mother-daughter relationship and what lessons they had learned from their struggles. What amazed me was that despite such trauma, these eight women could still find the will to hope for more and for better. Because of the characters’ ability to transcend generation gaps and culture shocks, I would rate this postmodern book a four (out of four), and recommend it for ages fourteen and up. The Joy Luck Club is more than just the gathering of mothers and daughters; it is a symbol of the long journey they have overcome, and proof that hope is real and everlasting.

Posted on 2011-12-25