Friday, October 28, 2011

Dreams of Joy

Dreams of Joy: A NovelDreams of Joy: A Novel by Lisa See

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Dreams of Joy begins the night Joy learns that her aunt is her biological mother, and her mother is her aunt. Joy blames herself for her father's recent suicide, and she's furious at being lied to about her biological parents, so she runs away to China. It's 1957, and the Communist Revolution is in full swing there, and Joy is awash with enthusiasm for the New Society.

I want to like this book, but I just can't make myself finish right now. I listened to seven of the thirteen CDs, so I made it more than half way. I simply can't take any more of Joy's selfish, self-centered, naive blindness! Her enthusiasm for all things Red China never wanes, and she doesn't see that she's run away to do the very thing that caused her father's death, really. She willfully ignores the disparity between life in the countryside and the flashy parties with Chairman Mao in the cities, choosing instead to believe the propaganda, no matter how idiotic it is. It makes me want to scream!

Joy's mother, Pearl, I find more likable, although not enough right now to pull me through to the end of the book. And Joy's biological father, Z.G., isn't compelling enough for me to understand why Pearl & her sister May have been in love with him for the past 20 years.

May and Pearl are the eponymous characters from See's earlier book, Shanghai Girls, which I haven't read. Perhaps I should have started there; maybe I'd like this book better if I'd read the first. I may someday get back to finishing this one and reading the first one, but I'll have to wait for my blood to stop boiling first.

For readers' advisors: character and setting doorways

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