Friday, May 17, 2013

Book Review: Dreams of Joy

Remember my book review of Shanghai Girls and I said, "there must be a sequel coming because it ended on a cliffhanger?"  Yeah - apparently both the first book and the sequel were written a few years ago, ha.  So I didn't have to wait!

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See

This book literally picks up the second after the first one ended.  And I was glad about that because I didn't want to skip over the logistics of how these women were going to get into communist China from America.  I should say, though, I think this book could stand on its own (ie, you wouldn't need to read the first) because any time there might be a question about the past, they explain it a little.  You would get the characters more if you read both, but whatev.

So anyway, this book is told from two different, 1st-person perspectives: Pearl (the mother/older sister who narrated the first book) and her daughter Joy.  I enjoyed having 2 perspectives this time, but I have to say, Joy was so freaking naive it drove me crazy!  Naive to the point of stupidity at times.  She does redeem herself a bit as the book moves forward, but still, there were multiple times where I wanted to scream, "you stupid, stupid child!"

But other than Joy, I enjoyed the book.  Actually, I feel really interested in reading more books about China.  This one took place amidst Mao's "Great Leap Forward" and all the consequences that followed.  It was fascinating to read about early communist China - also heartbreaking, because as we all know from history class, there were millions of deaths due to famine (which was a result of very poor leadership).  I know this book is fiction, but Lisa See did a ton of research (as noted in the foreword and afterward of the book), so it feels a little more like historical fiction.

Our library has one other Lisa See book available for e-checkout (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan), which I have on my kindle and plan to read once I finish our book club book for this month.  So I think the fact that I want to read more books by her is endorsement enough - but I would definitely recommend this book.  Like I said about the last one: it isn't "high literature," but it also isn't crappy chick lit.  And I'd say to definitely give it a shot for the historical aspect.

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