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Dreams of Joy: A Novel by Lisa See

Dreams of Joy: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Lisa See

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961None8,985 (4.11)69
Title:Dreams of Joy: A Novel
Authors:Lisa See
Info:Random House Trade Paperbacks (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library

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Dreams of Joy by Lisa See

  1. 10
    Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: Another novel of fascinating cultural detail by Lisa See.
  2. 00
    Daughter of China: A True Story of Love and Betrayal by Meihong Xu (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: More about the Cultural revolution in China. This is nonfiction.

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Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
Author Lisa See has always been able to completely draw me into her stories and when I emerge days later, I am often emotional wrung out but deeply satisfied with the story and what I have learned from her writing. Dreams of Joy is no exception, this is a follow up book to her Shanghai Girls, and the story picks up right from the end of the first book. Joy is the 19 year old American raised daughter of a woman who she has just found out is not her birth mother. In fact, her mother, Pearl, is actually her aunt, and her aunt May, is in fact, her birth mother. On top of this, Joy is still in shock from her father’s suicide, of which, she blames herself for. In true teenage style, Joy runs. Unfortunately she runs to Communist China in search of her birth father. At her young and impressionable age, she also believes in the revolution and wants to join in and help with the “Great Leap Forward “ program. It’s 1957 and Joy arrives in China on the eve of the Cultural Revolution.

It took me awhile to warm up to the character of Joy. In the beginning parts of the book I simply wanted to shake her and tell her to smarten up. She made impulsive, wrong choices again and again, but as the story develops, Joy matures and by the middle of the book, I found her a very sympathetic character. Although Pearl was not the birth mother, her actions and sacrifices show that she was truly Joy’s mother I haven’t read a lot about China in the late 1950’s, but the brutal conditions described in the story were both horrifying and moving.

That Lisa See has done a lot of research into the subject matter is obvious and even though there is violence aplenty in the story I never felt it was overdone or exaggerated. Dreams of Joy is an excellent story but also paints a strong picture of both the political and social attitudes of Red China during this time. An excellent sequel. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Feb 24, 2014 |
Great sequel to Shanghai Girls. Overall I liked it just a tiny bit less, but still really enjoyed it. ( )
  sbsolter | Feb 6, 2014 |
4.5 stars

It is the late 1950s and 19-year old Joy has run away from her mother and her aunt in California to communist China, specifically to Shanghai, to find her biological father. Her mother, Pearl, follows after her and hopes to bring her home again. Joy ends up in a rural village, a commune, which she initially likes (after getting used to some of the hardships), but it's only with famine that she realizes that this is not the ideal life that the Chinese officials have painted it to be.

This one is told from alternating points of view of Joy and Pearl. I liked this better than the previous book, Shanghai Girls (focusing on Pearl and her sister May coming to the U.S. from China). It was really really good! I wanted to keep reading, and when I wasn't, I wanted to be reading it. It's certainly a topic I don't know about, and it was quite horrifying, some of that stuff done during the famine. See does provide a historical note at the end, as well as some info about her research and some discussion questions. This is probably my favourite book so far this year, and I'm sure it will make my favourites list for the year. ( )
  LibraryCin | Jan 3, 2014 |
Lisa See has only disappointed me once, and that was with Peony in Love. She redeemed herself with Shanghai Girls and now with its sequel.

Joy, the daughter of the "Shanghai Girls" runs away to China, buoyed by idealistic dreams of building the nation. Though at first its everything she hoped for, eventually she learns the hard lessons behind Mao's Great Leap Forward. She is followed by her mother Pearl, who has already lived through a period of upheaval in her homeland and is thus less dazzled by the promises of "being red"

I blew through this book in a couple days. See does amazing research and brings the situation in China to brilliant life. What I like best is that she doesn't make everything completely black and white. One can see why so many people were caught up in the fervor of a great society, but how corruption and bad execution defeated them.

What kept it from being a five star was I thought parts of the conclusion were a little too convenient, but otherwise this was an amazing read. ( )
  anadandy | Aug 14, 2013 |
This was a wonderful read. It is a great remainder of youthful idealism, consequences and the depth of love and dedication of family.
  sync03 | Jul 17, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
Although the ending betrays See’s roots in genre fiction, this is a riveting, meticulously researched depiction of one of the world’s worst human-engineered catastrophes.
added by Shortride | editKirkus Reviews (May 15, 2011)
With each new novel, Lisa See gets better and better. Each work is more tightly woven, richer with information, its characters more memorable than the last....And so it is with "Dreams of Joy," which picks up where "Shanghai Girls" left off, giving us the story of a young Chinese American woman's search for her father and her three-year odyssey in the People's Republic during Mao Tse-tung's Great Leap Forward. The scope of the novel is astonishing — including the ingenious ways Chinese women handled their menstrual periods and the carefully concealed and shocking stories of starvation in the communes, the suffocating collectives into which the country was divided...The novel is front-loaded with all of these revelations, and continues to move extremely quickly until the very end — one of those hard-to-put-down-until-four-in-the-morning books — but happily, the action is not all external
Crowd-pleaser See continues the story she began in Shanghai Girls with this compelling account of life inside the People's Republic of China during Mao's disastrous "Great Leap Forward." ...See writes vividly about China's people, places and customs; her descriptions of various state banquets will bring on hunger pangs. That such feasts were served while millions starved is a sobering history lesson in the midst of this engrossing saga about two tiger mothers of an earlier day.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lisa Seeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Song, JanetNarratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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For my father, Richard See
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The wail of a police siren in the distance tears through my body. Crickets whirr in a never-ending chorus of blame.
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Book description
In her beloved New York Times bestsellers Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, and, most recently, Shanghai Girls, Lisa See has brilliantly illuminated the potent bonds of mother love, romantic love, and love of country. Now, in her most powerful novel yet, she returns to these timeless themes, continuing the story of sisters Pearl and May from Shanghai Girls, and Pearl’s strong-willed nineteen-year-old daughter Joy.

Reeling from newly uncovered family secrets, and anger at her mother and aunt for keeping them from her, Joy runs away to Shanghai in early 1957 to find her birth father—the artist Z.G. Li, with whom both May and Pearl were once in love. Dazzled by him, and blinded by idealism and defiance, Joy throws herself into the New Society of “Red” China, heedless of the dangers in the communist regime.

Devastated by Joy’s flight, and terrified for her safety, Pearl is determined to save her daughter, no matter the personal cost. From the crowded city to remote villages, Pearl confronts old demons and almost insurmountable challenges as she follows Joy, hoping for reconciliation. Yet even as Joy and Pearl's separate journeys converge, one of the most tragic episodes in China’s history threatens their very lives.

Acclaimed for her richly drawn characters and vivid storytelling, Lisa See once again renders a family challenged by tragedy and time, yet ultimately united by the resilience of love.
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A continuation of "Shanghai Girls" finds a devastated Joy fleeing to China to search for her real father while her mother, Pearl, desperately pursues her, a dual quest marked by their encounters with the nation's intolerant Communist culture.

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