Book Review: THE JOY LUCK CLUB, by Amy Tan

When she noticed me reading THE JOY LUCK CLUB, my friend Stacey asked, "That's one of those girl books, isn't it?" Yes, I had to admit, it definately is.

And, though I've thought a lot about it, I cannot figure out how this should detract from the book for me--but it does. For some reason, girl books just don't appeal much to me, and by "girl books" I mean books almost solely about women, where men are just husbands, brothers, and/or tormentors who rarely have a moment of interesting character-hood. By "girl books" I suppose I mean Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Girls' Poker Night (Jill A. Davis), The Memoir Club (Laura Kalpakian) (I'm noticing a club/sisterhood theme...) and several others that I read at somebody's suggestion, felt terrible for not liking and returned promptly to the bookstore for trade.

Which isn't to say that all books about groups of women are not to my taste--after all, I loved Reading Lolita in Tehran (Azar Nafisi) and The Woman Warrior (Maxine Hong Kingston)--or that I didn't enjoy THE JOY LUCK CLUB. Amy Tan landed herself on one of the higher rungs of Girl Book-dom, but I just felt compelled to add a small rant about all those books with pink covers featuring some sort of beverage (wine, lattes and so on). The rant is finished and now we may move on.

Tan's definately a gifted writer, to the point where I will definately read more of her books, and I enjoyed being whisked right out of my white American experience and into that of several Chinese immigrant families--the way Tan tells it, in a series of small scenes, each narrated by either a mother or a daughter of the four families, layers the story beautifully, even if I lost track periodically of who was speaking. It's a gorgeous book, full of great descriptions and rich characters--all of whom, you may notice, are women. But I got a little choked up at parts, Tan's words were that strong.


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