by Amy Tan
Started: 23rd September 2014
Finished: 3rd October 2014
I’ve heard of Amy Tan before but I had never looked into any of her books. So I didn’t know what I would get when I saw she was on a reading list.
The novel follows Ruth and her mother LuLing. After many years of not speaking about her life in China, LuLing writes down her story for Ruth to read. The reader is exposed to the hardships that both Ruth and LuLing have faced (and continue to face), and the importance of a mother-daughter relationship.
It took me a while to warm up to any of the characters in this book. I just didn’t like any of their attitudes, there wasn’t anything about them that stood out to me. However as their story progresses and you learn more about the characters, I did begin to like them. I had a much better understanding of LuLing and felt so sorry for her after hearing her tragic story.
The plot was split into three parts – the first and last set in the present and the second (taking up most of the novel) in LuLing’s past. They were both as equally interesting – sometimes the past even more so. However, whenever I put the novel down I found I wasn’t desperate to pick it back up again. It even took me a while to get back into the novel once I had started it again. There are times where Part One didn’t make much sense, only for it to finally come together in various parts of Part Two, although I liked it when I finally got some clarification, it did make it more difficult to initially get into the book. You also meet many characters in the second part – which did confuse me at times – however, to me, it was only LuLing’s story with Precious Auntie that was important.
What I did find interesting was the different types of maternal bond shown throughout the novel. However it wasn’t always shown in a good way (which is an honest account) and left me feeling conflicted towards the main characters.
Even though there are a lot of good qualities about this novel such as the plot progression (although sometimes slow) and the way it was written, there was just not much that left me overwhelmed. As there wasn’t an initial connection with any of the characters, it made it more difficult to get into and enjoy. The plot may have some interesting moments but it wasn’t gripping. I just can’t see myself picking it up again, but I do look forward to studying it.