It’s amazing how well Amy Tan captures the struggle of growing up Asian American.
From the mothers’ fears of their daughters losing touch with their cultures to the daughters’ frustration, shame, and guilt – it’s hard not to see our own childhood being echoed in this book.
Here’s an excerpt from a scene that really struck me. June’s mother just passed away and her aunties asked her to tell her estranged half-sisters about their mother. But June Woo doesn’t know what to say or how to say it:
“What will I say? What can I tell them about my mother? I don’t know anything. She was my mother.”
“Imagine, a daughter not knowing her own mother!”
And then it occurs to me. They are frightened. In me they see their own daughters, just as ignorant, just as unmindful of all the truths and hopes they have brought to America. They see daughters who grow impatient when their mothers talk in Chinese, who think they are stupid when they explain things in fractured English. They see that joy and luck do not mean the same to their daughters, that to these closed American-born minds “joy luck” is not a word, it does not exist. They see daughters who will bear grandchildren born without any connecting hope passed from generation to generation.
If you’re interested, my updated reading list is here.