Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See

Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: May 31st 2011 by Random House
140006712X (ISBN13: 9781400067121)

Dreams of Joy: A Novel

Dreams of joy is the sequel to Shanghai Girls, which I have not yet read.  Normally, I avoid reading sequels or series of books out of order.  I always feel like I came in to a movie late and missed the beginning!  I did not feel that way about this book.  It stands alone and does not rely heavily on the story told in Shanghai Girls.

Dreams of Joy is set in Red China in 1957.  Not a popular setting for most novels.  I didn't know anything about that period of time in China.  I found this refreshing and educational in an entirely entertaining manner.  I have found some "historical" novels to be dry and boring.  I tend to skip over the history lesson or quit reading the book.  Again, I didn't find this to be true.  Lisa See's description of China in the midst of "The Great leap Forward" bought history to life in a colorful and painless way!

The book alternates between first person accounts by Joy and her Mother, Pearl.  I had to flip back to the start of the chapter at times, to remember which person was speaking.   Joy's adolescent rebellion has life changing consequences and Peal must sacrifice all that she has worked for in America to return to a dysfunctional and corrupt China  in order to rescue her daughter.

This novel went a long way in helping me to understand  how and why the people of China tolerated their government's Communist Agenda.  The characters in this book displayed a manner of thinking and dealing with issues that never would occur to most mid western American citizens. This story enlightened me and  allowed me to begin to understand how the people of China endured a terrible time in their country's history. I would recommend this book as reading material for any students studying this time period in China. But don't let that scare you away from this book!  This is an interesting story that offers a change of pace from the usual subjects and characters.  Once you start reading it, you will find it hard to put down!

I plan to read Shanghai Girls in the near future!
Thank You to Random House for allowing me the opportunity to read and review this interesting book.

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