At the end of this week we’ll be posting our much-awaited for review of Three Meters above the Sky… it’s taking longer than expected!
Plus I’ve got my bilingual students working on reviews for the first novels in three popular new series in YA fiction: the romantic Perfect Chemistry, by Simone Elkeles, the paranormal Die for Me, by Amy Plum, and the time-travelling Waterfall, by Lisa Bergren…
Meanwhile, I want to talk to you about a novel I love… The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan, is a classic of contemporary fiction and a big all-time favourite of mine.
This novel was popular when it was first published, way back in the 1990s… and then when they made the film, but I’m sure this classic is not known among my teenage students… and I definitely want to rectify that situation!
The Joy Luck Club is a wonderful novel about China, and about Chinese immigrants living in the US. It’s a novel about love, about mothers and daughters, about having dreams and how they sometimes come true and sometimes they just don’t… It is one of the most poignant and touching stories I have ever read.
It tells the story of a young Chinese woman whose mother has recently died. After her death she decides to take her mother’s place and joins her mother’s friends to play mah-jong every week. It is then that she finds out there are many things she didn’t know about her mother… such as the fact that she had had another life before leaving China, a life that included other children…
As she decides to look for her sisters, the stories of her mother’s friends and their daughters’ begin to unfold. The novel tells a story for each of the older women when they were little girls in China, as well as a story for each of their daughters growing up in the US, and it is constantly switching from present to past to tell the story of these women’s lives now as they struggle to find happiness.
This truly is a jewel of a book… it is a must-read for anyone with a heart…
There is a film based on this novel with the screenplay written by Amy herself that it’s definitely recommended watching!!!
Here is the poster for the film…
There are so many excerpts from this novel that I want you to read… it’s just better if you read the whole thing!
So I’ve finally decided to copy the first words from the film’s screenplay… Here they are, read and enjoy! I confess I’ve felt tears stung more than once every time I’ve watched this film!
The old woman remembered a swan she had bought many years ago in Shanghai for a foolish sum. “This bird”, boasted the market vendor, “was once a duck that stretched its neck in hopes of becoming a goose. And now look, it is too beautiful to eat!”
Then the woman and the swan sailed across an ocean many thousands of lei wide, stretching their necks toward America. On her journey, she cooed to the swan, “In America, I will have a daughter just like me. But over there, nobody will say her worth is measured by the loudness of her husband’s belch. Over there, nobody will look down on her because I will make her speak only perfect American English. And over there, she will always be too full to swallow any sorrow. She will know my meaning because I will give her this swan, a creature that became more than what was hoped for.”
But when she arrived in the new country the immigration officials pulled the swan away from her, leaving the woman fluttering her arms and with only one swan feather for a memory.
For a long time now, the women had wanted to give her daughter the single swan feather and tell her; “This feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions”.
1. What do you think the swan represents?
2. What is a “Lei” in Chinese?
3. What do you think is meant by the fact that the swan is taken away?
4. Why does the woman keep the feather?
5. What are the old woman’s hopes regarding her daughter?
6. Is it a sad story or a happy story?