The Joy Luck Club and The Bonesetter’s Daughter

January 7, 2011

It was the movie that sucked me in. I rented The Joy Luck Club for the family this past summer. Turned out we had seen it once before, but it didn’t matter to me. The characters, the depth and intricacies of the stories, all pulled me in over my head. So when I came across the book a few weeks later in the college library, I checked it out along with the book next to it.

It turned out my wife had already read both of them so the books sat on the floor in front of the TV for several more weeks until I could finish them both.

I enjoyed them but it was probably a mistake to read one right after the other, because the central plot points of each book – Old World mother from China battles New World daughter from Bay area – and everything that goes with that, made The Bonesetter’s Daughter seem like a repetition of The Joy Luck Club.

I also discovered that Amy Tan‘s tales of the Old World captivated me far more than her stories of the New. The voices of her modern daughters trying to get by, trying to get ahead, trying to find love, trying to please everybody, trying to be the Good Girl and the Bad, were often annoying. I wanted to yell at them, “Listen to your mother. Or don’t. But, either way, get a grip!” I suppose I was just having a characteristically “guy response”.


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