The Joy Luck Club, written by Amy Tan, was published in 1989. Unlike typical novels, The Joy Luck Club is broken down into four distinct sections with four chapters each, taking after the structure of a mah-jong game.
Set in San Francisco, the novel focuses on the mothers and daughters of four different Chinese immigrant families, who started the Joy Luck Club. The novel showcases 2 main themes of mother-daughter relationships and cultural differences,offering a variety of point-of-views from both mothers and daughters. These two themes/issues are intertwined and are usually the root of conflict and tension throughout the novel.
I personally enjoy this book because it is rather relatable – especially the issue of cultural differences and cultural identity. In my generation, I am more inclined towards the western culture and I converse in English more often than in mandarin so there are inadvertently cultural clashes between my parents or grandparents and I. For example, up to today, I still do not understand some of the Chinese superstitions and beliefs that my parents or grandparents believe in but more often than not, I find myself subconsciously following them. As mentioned earlier, language is also a problem I face with my grandparents because there are times when I am unable to translate my thoughts from English to Mandarin or dialect, thus causing misunderstandings at times.
Overall, I feel that this book has really taught me the importance of cultural identity and not forgetting one’s roots – like what the daughters in the novel had done. It also evoked some emotions and sentiments when the mothers and daughters argued and when the child only missed her mother after she passed away. Hence, I really recommend you to read this book because it is especially relatable to us at this age.