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Customer Review

on 30 December 2000
Amy Tan continues to enchant her readers with wondrous but tragic tales of life, loves and disappointments. Having read two of her other works her style is familiar and her ability to tell a story placing layer upon layer of conflicting and often confusing emotions together yet do it with such deft ease and understanding is so enjoyable. There is so much of family relationships of high expectations and perhaps too easy resulting disappointments or at least the character's perception of them. Perhaps though she should try to write something a bit less cynical, less steeped in sorrow and hardship and something with more hope for the future rather than the all too familiar bitter-sweet ending. It does lay life bare in many ways though the hardships gone through in the past (mother's generation) may only have been typical of a certain time and place and the hardships of the present are really mostly of the daughter's own making i.e. they seem not to look for great love merelt something convenient and then end up discarding their modern marriages as easily as they came by them. It does, though, show the value of a strong set of beliefs and traditions by which to live as, although they may seem outdated to the modern generation as in the stories of the daughters who felt more settled with modern (cynical and mistrusting) America than with ancient Chinese customs, the value of believing in something becomes more and more apparent as the younger generation is seen to be part of the throwaway society assigning little value or effort to making things count which is strongly contrasted to the older generation of Chinese born mothers who know what they believe and try to teach their daughters the importance of faith and hope before it is too late. One thing though, it would be easier to follow these separate and basically unrelated tales if each family's tale were told separately so as not to confuse the reader by switching back and forth and back and forth as she does chapter after chapter. Beautiful little tales of pride, hope and tragedy but the characters still seem to lack any confidence in themselves - the older generation still trying to convince themselves to cling onto what little hope they feel they have left (often lived out through their own children) yet the younger generation themselves seeming to not only resent this intrusion into their lives (wishing merely to be left alone in order to just be themselves) yet at the same time giving a sense that they are completely 'lost', neither understanding that love and marriage should mean the same thing nor seeming to really know exactly who or what they really are. Perhaps that's the crux of all of her books, a sense of identity crisis in first generation immigrants.......
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