Our selection for adult readers is The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Originally published in 1989, Tan's novel centers around four Chinese-American women who have been friends for many years, weaving together stories from the old world of China and the new world of America, embroidered with the experiences of two generations who see things in remarkably different ways. What results is an engaging depiction of a common human experience: seeking to find a balance between respecting the events of the past while also welcoming the possibilities of the present. One member of the title selection team described The Joy Luck Club as "a beautifully written story that reaches across time and across cultures, illustrating the bonds between generations."
Joy Luck was an idea my mother remembered from the days of her first marriage in Kweilin, before the Japanese came. That's why I always think of Joy Luck as her Kweilin story. It was the story she would always tell me when she was bored, when there was nothing to do, when every bowl had been washed and the Formica table had been wiped down twice. This is when my mother would take out a box of old ski sweaters sent to us by unseen relatives from Vancouver. She would snip the bottom of a sweater and pull out a kinky thread of yarn, anchoring it to a piece of cardboard. And as she began to roll with one sweeping rhythm, she would start her story. Over the years, she told me the same story, except for the ending, which grew darker, casting long shadows into her life, and eventually into mine. (pp. 20-21)
The four sections of The Joy Luck Club
- Feathers from a Thousand Li Away - the mothers recall the relationships that they had with their own mothers in China
- The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates - the American-born daughters recall their relationships with their mothers
- American Translation - the daughters tell of their current lives
- Queen Mother of the Western Skies - the mothers struggle to understand and to offer support to their daughters