I’ve just finished reading the novel, ‘Dreams of Joy‘. I enjoyed this sequel novel very much as I did for the previous one, ‘Shanghai Girls’! While the plot of ‘Shanghai Girls’ was still fresh in my memory, I immediately proceed to make book reservation of its sequel novel in the national library website and eagerly went to get it in my neighborhood library on the following day when I received the notice that my book was ready for collection.
There has been many thrills of anticipation while reading ‘Dreams of Joy’ – that it sets me worrying about Joy when I was reading the chapters of her written account. One moment, you want to get to the end of the novel to unfold the mysteries from the first novel while the other moment, you don’t want to get to the end because that means you see the end of these fictional characters who’ve been occupying your mind for the past 2 months and it’s time to get out of that adventure.
I’ve always yearned to find books which I can easily relate to the stories. I never thought I’d be able to enjoy the novels as much as I did because the first instance I came across the book, ‘Shanghai Girls’, I thought it’d be a chick-flick story about the most popular and beautiful girls in town. Ancient chick-flick. That’s why they say you should never judge a book by its cover. But I picked up the book because I read the first few pages of the novel and it did interest me and I could understand it. Most of the time, I suffer to understand the content of the book up to the next few chapters when I couldn’t figure the first few lines of the story. That’s why I can’t always enjoy reading any book I pick up in the library – it tends to take me more time to browse shelves after shelves, hoping to pick up a book which I’ll stay engaged throughout.
Reading these 2 novels is like travelling through decades and generations with Pearl, May and the rest of the fictional characters.
From the time when Pearl and May, both sisters, were in their adolescence, glammed and modern girls, coming from a well-to-do family and working as models for advertisement posters and calendars (image reflected on the left), to the end of the story where Joy (their daughter) becomes an adult and has a child of her own, Samantha (granddaughter of Pearl and May).
Pearl Chin, the protagonist of the story, is an admirable character in the story. She holds an undying sisterly love for May – there has been so many sacrifices she has made which I don’t think I, being an elder sister, will be more than willing to do it for my little sister. She has suffered alot as a woman of that era – from ‘Shanghai Girls’, she braved through the series of unfortunate events which happened during the journey from Shanghai to Los Angeles, USA, and then from ‘Dreams of Joy’, the sacrifice is for the niece she regards as her own daughter. It took a horrible emotional toil for her in the sequel novel because Joy was always disobeying her and by the time Joy realized that both her mom and aunt love her very much, she was in a wrecked state and it did hurt Pearl to see that but fortunately, Pearl saved Joy from the brim of death.
You’ll see Pearl differently in ‘Dreams of Joy’ than in ‘Shanghai Girls’ because in the sequel novel, you see her point of view of the story with the eyes of a Mother, going through the struggle to make her child return. It frustrates me very much at the beginning of the novel when Joy gets so impulse, taking things in her own hands when she know jolly well not to do that, but she did – like a Tiger who leaps (Pearl claims). Even when Pearl traveled a long way from Los Angeles to China ; persuading Joy to go home with her, she remains very stubborn and insists to stay there as to eradicate her guilt and to make a difference with her ideals influenced by the politics she has learnt about back in college, in Chicago. But you could have guessed that Joy is an intelligent girl for sure if she could do something like that, she soon realizes the truth that outsiders were basked with the illusion of China’s greatness when only the people sees the reality of the country.
The reunion which concludes this story makes me feel happy for the characters than to feel that the ending is unjustifiable because of the multiple, lucky coincidences towards the end of the novel.
Pearl finally found the happiness she has been fighting for.
These 2 novels truly deserve the recognition received by many reviews out there!