I just finished Amy Tan’s The Kitchen God’s Wife. I picked it up at Pioneer Book, remembering how much I had liked The Joy Luck Club in high school, and I was not disappointed. This was quite a good book.
The basic idea of the book is that a Chinese mother and a Chinese-American daughter don’t get along. So when their relative threatens to spill all their secrets before she dies, they have to go tell each other their real life stories, before Aunt Helen tells them all wrong and makes a mess out of it.
The daughter has Multiple Sclerosis, and is afraid to tell her mother. The mother has an entire previous life and marriage in China that she’s kept hidden, ashamed of how abusive her ex-husband was, and the kind of garbage she went through. Most of the book is the mother’s story, telling how she escaped her horrible marriage, and how she slowly came to the realization that she couldn’t endure it any longer.
This book was exactly what I expected: a heartwarming, sometimes heart-wrenching story of women’s lives and strength. I would recommend it to nearly any grown woman. I would hesitate to recommend it to a man, however; it’s all about women. The men are either villains or side-characters, and nearly all of the conflict is emotional. I tried to describe the book to my husband, and he asked what the conflict was. “Well… this woman doesn’t get along with her mother.”
“And that’s it so far. But it’s good.” So, men, if you’re looking for a good, solid, driven plot-line, this is not your book. But if you’re looking for character change, yes. It’s great. ♦