The Joy Luck Club Read-Along: Week 1 Recap

Joy

Welcome to the 1st weekly recap of The Joy Luck Club read-along!  We officially started Monday, September 7th and the last day will be Friday, the 23rd of October.  Below is the schedule.  Each Saturday I’ll post a recap (with clearly marked spoilers for those who get a little behind).  The final review of the book will be on Saturday, October 24th.

  • Sep. 7th – 12th: Chapters “The Joy Luck Club” and “Scar”
  • Sep. 13th – 19th: Chapters “The Red Candle” and “The Moon Lady”
  • Sep. 20th – 26th” Chapters “Rules of the Game”, “The Voice from the Wall”, and “Half and Half”
  • Sep. 27th – Oct. 3rd: Chapters “Two Kinds” and “Rice Husband”
  • Oct. 4th – 10th: Chapters “Four Directions”, “Without the Wood”, and “Best Quality”
  • Oct. 11th – 17th: Chapters “Magpies” and “Waiting Between the Trees”
  • Oct. 18th – 23rd: Chapters “Double Face” and “A Pair of Tickets”

Before we get into this week’s chapters, here’s a bit of trivia: the book is arranged similarly to a game of Mahjong.  It has four parts that are each divided into four chapters.  Also, there are four families in the book.  Each chapter per part is from the perspective of either a mother or daughter from each family as if they’re taking their turn during a game of Mahjong.

Not a whole lot happened, action wise, in the first two chapters, “The Joy Luck Club” and “Scar” of part one.  However, what did occur was essential to the story and emotionally devastating.  I have a feeling there isn’t going to be anything that isn’t essential, but in these chapters the author gave us some background and context, and WOW!  I had to put the book down after fourteen pages, so I could process everything I was feeling.  How does anyone survive what Suyuan goes through in China?  How does anyone grow up to be a well-adjusted adult after a childhood like An-mei’s?

[Spoilers] None of my prior knowledge of China’s history prepared me for how Amy Tan depicts what the Japanese did when they invaded.  How can anyone not be affected by Suyuan’s response to her daughter’s question about the two babies after Suyuan says she lost everything during her escape?  “Your father is not my first husband.  You are not those babies.”  I was cooking pasta while I was reading, and that line made me sit down on the kitchen floor.  I don’t know how I feel about Jing-mei finding out after her mother’s death that those babies survived.  Is it somehow worse that they grew up without their mother and possibly raised in the same way An-mei was with the belief that her mother didn’t love her enough to stay?  One aspect of the mothers that I’m having difficulty with is the use of language to manipulate their daughters’ actions rather than to communicate their emotions or wishes for their daughters’ happiness.  Is it any wonder that Jing-mei constantly felt at odds with Suyuan?  Living with women whose words must be re-interpreted to get to the heart of what is really being said must be exhausting, especially when you add on the frequent switching from one language to another. [End Spoilers]

What do you think about the story so far?  Comment away!  Just be sure to mark clearly any spoilers 🙂

If you’d like to join in, sign up through the linky below with your blog, Twitter, Goodreads, etc.  The sign up will close at the end of the 2nd week, Saturday, September 19th.

 

5 thoughts on “The Joy Luck Club Read-Along: Week 1 Recap

  1. You did a much better of summarizing and describing your shock than I did! I had to put this book down several times while reading just these first 48 pages. And then I reread them twice. Appalling how these children were treated by their “caregivers,” and how does an adult keep on going. I did note that perhaps Suyuan had some valid reasons for being a seemingly overly-critical controlling mother. (Not sure mine did, but that’s a whole ‘nother story! lol) And An-mei! Oh, I hurt so badly for both of them…and now Jing-mei–what a burden to fulfill her aunties’ wishes! That would be an emotional turmoil for me! Here is my wrap-up for the first week: http://books-n-music.blogspot.com/2015/09/the-joy-luck-club-read-along-check-in-1.html. Thanks so much for hosting this!

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