It’s when I read books like these that I realize once more, why novels, whether they may be fiction or non-fiction, can offer that ‘little something more’ than essays or academic books. When you read books like ‘The White Man’s Burden’, sure you appreciate how thorough and meticulous the writer has been in providing us with such detailed info and data. Books like ‘The Bad Samaritan’ are not only informative, but do retain a sense of humor from the author. But you cannot help but feel that if you had the amount of studies and research as they did, and you had the necessary information, theories and facts in your hands, and if you could make yourself go through the trouble and time and pain to write them all down in a book for others to read, well, maybe you could write a best-seller too. Not that I want to minimize or ignore these authors’ and scholars’ efforts, but you feel like you could do the same if you put yourself to it. But when it comes to books like this one, you cannot help but stare and express admiration for the choice of words, the metaphors and the whole flow of the novel, because no matter how much research you make, you won’t be able to convey your story like the writer does. Something, inexplicable, moves your heart and it’s just there, that ‘special something’, it lingers, and you can’t really explain.
That’s the impression I got from Maxine Hong Kingston and this book. I would totally recommend it as a ‘feminist literature’. This non-ficton novel is divided into four parts and tells the story of Maxine, no doubt, and how she grew up as a the child of Chinese immigrants to the US. Her childhood, her mother’s youth, her Chinese family, Chinatown, the Americans, it’s all there, but in such a subtle way.
It’s quite revealing and intuitive to see how her mother’s own education is in opposition with how she views and treats her daughters, it’s painful to watch her struggle with the English language and how she transfers her anxiety and discomfort to this other Chinese girl who doesn’t dare say a word in English and it is frustrating yet understandable how her aunt and so many immigrants come to lose their minds in the foreign land.
This book is about the troubled mind of a girl, the daughter of an immigrant, the wannabe American, the Chinese girl tied to her traditions and famiy, a woman.