The novel starts after the death of Sunyan Woo when her daughter Jing-Mei is asked to take her place at the mahjong table. And so begins the stories of four Chinese mothers and their American daughters. Jing-Mei finds out that before leaving China her mother abandoned two daughters and now Jong-Mei’s sisters have been found. Waverly Jong has a daughter, but not much respect for her mother or her heritage. Lena St. Clair is in an unhappy marriage and her mother considers herself a ghost. Rose Hsu Jordan is getting divorced much to the consternation of her mother.
The most interesting parts of this book are the stories of the mothers and their youth in China. I loved learning about the culture and history and how their lives changed when they moved to San Francisco. They all seemed to have real issues with the American way of life and values and lamented how it affected their children. It was fascinating.
As much as I loved the stories of the women there were too many to invest in completely. There was not a resolution for every story and that’s okay, but I would have liked one. This didn’t really detract from the beauty of the book, but it is worth mentioning.
I didn’t expect to love it, but I did. It wasn’t what I expected, it was so much better. It was fun escaping into another culture for a few hours. I will definitely be checking out more books by Amy Tan.
“A modern classic, I think. Really well done.” Jenners
“Fantastic book by a wonderful author. You’ll remember this one well after you’ve read it!” Staci
“Because it’s an engaging tale of immigrants and generations, but also because this is one of those books that will be (or already is) a part of our collective consciousness.” Hannah