I read the reviews on Amazon and a lot of people complained that the story was biased because Amy Tan hadn't been to China before she had written this book. I'll come back to this point later. I mentioned it to the club before we read and asked about it later.
We broke down the book into four different discussions. It worked out well because the book is separated into four different parts. Two parts tell the stories of older women who emigrated from Chine to the US. The other two parts are told from the point of view of their daughters. One of the mothers had recently died, so her daughter, June played an interesting role in the story. She was the bridge between the generation, but it takes her the whole book to realize it. Each of the older women has a completely different story, children left behind, running from war, arranged marriages, etc. It's an interesting look at the many different things going on in China during that time.
There is so much I loved about this book. There are so many "lost in translation" moments, not funny ones but ones that are haunting and sad. The older women try to give their children the best chances by making them more "American", but at the same time, they experience a cultural disconnect with their daughters. The ways of communicating are so different. where the mothers communicate in lore and proverbs, the daughters take a much more pragmatic and logical approach. I guess the thing I liked about this book was the language. Amy Tan is very good at capturing different voices, or at least she was in this book.
Another thing I really liked about this book was that it made me think about where I come from, my relationship with my mom, my grandmother's life story, the traditions that have been lost over the decades, etc. In general, the book made me think. I like books that make me think.
Overall, I'm really glad we read this for book club. I have been meaning to read it for years. It was a really good discussion book. There was a lot of sociological discussion, which is of particular interest to me. One thing I love about book clubs is that people provide alternate views and opinions. It makes you think of things in ways you hadn't before. Maybe I'll post the questions somewhere on the site in case you want to take a look at our discussions.
After reading the book and never having been to China, I didn't see a big issue with Amy Tan not having been to China before writing this book. I don't think she was really biased one way or the other. I haven't read anything else by her, so I can't really say if things chance. I think this book was more about relationships and it really doesn't matter where it took place.
If nothing else, this is a good, compelling story. I would recommend it.