Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Book Review: "Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan (All Lady July) A Failure in Review

All, when I started thinking about doing All Lady July, this was one of the first books that popped into my head. I mean, it's written by a woman, nearly exclusively about women, it's a huge pick for book clubs and the like and I've never read it. This book and Willa Cather were the first ones on my list.

Then I got the book....and read it....and really really didn't like it. (I won't say hate, because the book had some valid points, but we're skirting that edge pretty tight).

Since I'm probably one of the last people ever to read this book I'm just going to do a quick and dirty summary. The story is about a group of women and their daughters. The women have all come over from China after WWII and get together to play mahjong and talk and gossip and complain. We hear about the mothers stories from China, and the lives of the girls as they grow up in America. I thought of the 2 scenarios the mother's stories from China were the more interesting.

I think the thing that really soured me on the book was how the women treated each other. there were 2 of the mom's talking and one mom says something like (this is me paraphrasing) : "My daughter brings home so many trophies playing chess, it takes me all day to dust them. You're so lucky you don't have that problem with your daughter." I hate myself for using this word but it's like frenemies. This kind of stuff goes on throughout the book and throughout the book. I just didn't feel like I really could believe that they were these friends who met for years and years (moms and daughters) and then they are all snarky and awful to each other.


It's serves as a good reminder. You are not going to love every book you read. Even if it seems like every other person loves the book that doesn't mean that you will like it. It's ok to not like it. No one is going to set your house on fire for not like this book. I'm bummed that I didn't like it. But not everything can be a success story, right? Right.

Am I missing the point? Can someone who loves this book explain it to me?

Next post will be happier and less depressing, I promise. All hail All Lady July!

In other totally unrelated news I'm going to my first author signing tonight! Ben Winters of the Last Policeman trilogy will be in town and I'm going with my mom, to whom I had passed the books onto after I had enjoyed them. It's in a teeny tiny little indie bookstore, I'm excited to see what happens! Expect a post sometime in August :)


  1. I totally get the "frenemies." I haven't read the book, but that would bug me too. Have you seen the movie? I wonder if it has the same feel to it.

    1. It was like, it seems like you genuinely don't enjoy each others company but these game meet ups go for decades? Weird. I haven't seen the movie, but people seemed to go bananas for it too.

  2. Not every book is for everyone for sure, and I think you've explained your reasons well! I really liked this book, but maybe because I found it very relatable in many ways. I am Asian, and grew up in a very traditional Asian culture, and I get the snarkiness of the family members - we're expected to base our actions to 'bring honor to family/family name' no matter what. I think that those expectations are what brings tension to families? I am generalizing though, but I am just trying to express how perhaps that's the reason why I found it believable.

    1. Jillian thanks so much for commenting! You're right I could totally feel the tension in those terse conversations. I'm glad to hear that it seems to be a true reflection of a lot of family situations, Im sure she's drawing on her own family experiences.


Thank you so much for your comment. I'd love to talk books with you!