Joy Luck Club

“This feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions.”

Joy Luck Club has kept my time, as well as my thoughts, occupied for the past month. I first came to hear about the book title when it was mentioned by a Philosophy professor who conducted the university admission interview with me.

The result of the interview? He didn’t give me the approval to admit into his bachelor’s programme, but what I gained from that interview was a good read; served with a side of food for thought, lasting enough to remain in my memory for quite awhile before another plot takes over from there. I bought the book online. No second thoughts on the purchase, even though it was just S$2. The yellowed paperback cover and the pages did justice to how much it was charged but the story was certainly worth more than that.

It was the first Amy Tan’s novel I’ve read and it was her very first written one as well. It took me sometime to get used to how Joy Luck Club was written. In summary, the book comprises of stories told by the 8 characters involved – 4 mothers and respectively, their 4 daughters. Although the novel is titled Joy Luck Club, there were only probably 1 or 2 scenes which revolved around the mahjong club itself. There was alot of emphasis on mother-daughter relationships and cultural differences as well.

However, these stories were not told in a sequential order. At the beginning, I found it difficult to remember the names. As I read on, I no longer took notice of which daughter belongs to which mom anymore. The content was what that matters.

CaptureNow that I’ve finished reading the novel, it’s still hard to tell which story belongs to who. I could only remember the little parts of the stories told by 4 characters in the plot, namely Suyuan Woo, June Woo, Lindo Jong and Waverly Jong, quite clearly because their involvement was the most.

Mothers and Daughters of the Joy Luck Club. From left to right: the names are in order as per the image above

Anyone who says that a writer depends on just purely his imagination and how he translates those to words to become a writer is not entirely correct. It’s hard to tell how all these stories, especially when it’s told by 8 different characters, are derived from just only the writer’s imagination. Whether it comes from the writer’s personal experiences or the massive amount of research she has done, I love how these stories are written as if they’re real. These characters are real, the incidences that happened are real; most importantly, these feelings (whether it’s between the characters in the novel or the ones I’m getting) are real, despite it being a fiction book. I like it because it seemed like hardly anything that has happened in this book can be doubted.

I watched the movie and finished the book before I decided to blog about this. The characters were well-casted. Many scenes in the novel were taken out of the film, probably to fit the duration. Nevertheless, it still turned out perfectly! At least to me, it is. It almost brought me to tears, which all or most of the movies don’t have that effect on me.

It would be another long story if I were to elaborate why I found it so relatable. For instance, occasions like when my mom loves to publicly points out my flaws to others and even things I tell her on private sometimes, which makes me feel betrayed and the thing about not being the kind of daughter she expects. The part about meeting expectations. I know I’ve always felt frustrated and disappointed about this, yet there’s nothing I can do about it.

Reading about this? It’s like going back to reflect on something you give up doing anything about it. I never understood what were the intentions of a mother for doing that. Why would you be doing things that you don’t mean? The book doesn’t answer them for me. It’s just a story that gives you a push to revisit these thoughts again and finding your own answers to these questions.


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