The Joy Lack Club Review Essay

Blow from the South. The wind leaves no trail. Throw sand from the East to distract him. Blow, blow, blow. He cannot see. He is blind now. Make him lean away from the wind so he is easier to knock down. (p.98) What kind of thoughts go through a reader’s mind when they come across a paragraph that has gibberish for its structure? How about a whole book of Chinese proverbs and bits of fragmented wisdom? The Joy Luck Club is a book that fits this description. The book has the potential of becoming another in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Made up from a collection of stories from the pasts of the main characters, the book lacks many of the qualities that are found in better known contemporary compositions. I personally thought it was the story line and the style that were two of the biggest let downs of the book. However, if there was one good thing that I could say about the book, it would be the way that it illustrates the conflicts of mother-daughter relationships. The possibility for a sequel does exist. After reading this book I can honestly say that I have no desire to read any more of Amy Tan’s work.

Since the beginning of time, English teachers have preached the importance of the plot diagram; you know that stupid mountain-looking thing that starts with the exposition and ends after the climax with a resolution, this book doesn’t follow that diagram. The lack of a strong plot was the most prominent let down of the book. The stories were well written, and it was interesting to see how they fit together to compose the characteristics of the characters, but the book left me unsatisfied by having no real suspense. Throughout the entire book I never once thought, What’s going to happen next? This made the book seem excruciatingly long. The depression that every one of the characters adds to the story also makes this book torturously long.

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Amy Tan’s style of writing is also something I do not care to read. The constant changes in perspective, the broken English, and the bits of Chinese wisdom, are all things that I have no desire to experience. True, the style of a composition is where the art of writing lies, but when the style aggravates a reader something has to be said. The style of this book also added to the length. Even though I disagree with Amy Tan’s style, I wouldn’t change it even if I had the chance. I would never attack the medium of an author/artist’s work. The way that she expressed her ideas through the book is the sign of a good artist, and by changing her style it would destroy her work.
A good sequel to this book would have to focus more on the present and less on the past. Many improvements could be made to the style and plot then. Maybe it could include the next generation of daughters, and show how the desire to fit in with American culture is phasing out the traditions of the past. This would turn the tables on the daughters in the present book and place the in their mother’s shoes. With the American values that the daughters have, it would be interesting to see how they would raise their children different from the way that they were raised.
The Joy Luck Club is a book that I never would have read on my own free time. I cannot relate to any of the stories in the book. The lack of a strong plot left me wanting for more than what was written. Amy Tan’s style, while praised by critics, was not in the least bit interesting to me. However, the stories did show the hardships that these women had to go through during a war. Of course, if I had really wanted to know that I would have gotten a much shorter answer from a history book. I will probably never recommend this book to anyone, and it would be a rare circumstance if I did.


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