Reviewed by: Jennifer Chretien, Reference Librarian
This is the sequel to See's book Shanghai Girls, which I hadn't read prior to listening to this book.
American born Joy, daughter of Chinese immigrant parents, falls in with a controversial pro Communist China group in college with devastating consequences. She decides to run away to China in 1957, in the midst of Chairman Mao's "Great Leap Forward" because she believes it is her duty to help build the People's Republic of China and she wants to meet her biological father, a famous artist.
The book is told from the perspective of Joy and her mother Pearl, who traveled back to China in order to find her daughter. See went to great detail describing what life was like during a very dangerous and tragic period of Chinese history and applied it to her characters' stories. Despite this, the character of Joy was not sympathetic at all. Joy's relentless belief in the glory of Red China and refusal to see what is really going on around her made her character even more insufferable to this reader. I would have loved to learn more about life behind the "Bamboo Curtain" but not as it pertained to a central character that lacked depth and charm.
Rating: 1 star