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Dreams of Joy

by Lisa See

Other authors: Janet Song (Narrator)

Series: Shanghai Girls (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,6551339,084 (4.06)120
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.… (more)
  1. 20
    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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» See also 120 mentions

English (132)  Dutch (1)  All languages (133)
Showing 1-5 of 132 (next | show all)
How can I even begin to describe this book and do it the justice it deserves? You just never know what you are going to get when you read a sequel and this one does not disappoint. This could be read as a stand alone, however, I believe readers will find a more enriching experience if they have read the first book, Shanghai Girls.

I don’t usually cry over stories. This one brought me to tears, stopped my heart a few times, and carried me through utter despair to a satisfying conclusion. It is emotionally powerful and moving. One of Lisa See’s best books yet.

In Dreams of Joy I discovered believable characters, heartwarming situations, horrible tragedy, unimaginative sadness, and the powerful strength of love. I can’t recommend it enough.
( )
  DebCushman | Aug 25, 2022 |
Dreams of Joy is Lisa See’s sequel to Shanghai Girls, but that isn’t really what it is...it is really the completion of what was, for me, an incomplete story. It would be like having Gone With the Wind end when Scarlett gets back to Tara after the burning of Atlanta...you would feel cheated, because you would know there were a lot of important pieces of this story that you didn’t yet know. It just couldn’t have ended there. Everything truly important happens in GWTW after that point, your understanding of the characters comes from Scarlett’s efforts to rebuild her lost world...the second half is the crux. That is how I feel about what Dreams of Joy is to Shanghai Girls.

This was a powerful novel with an in-depth look at life inside Communist China in the early days of Mao. It is also a serious examination of love: love of country, love of family, love of a mother, love of a lover, and what it is to sacrifice for each of those loves. It was interesting to see the growth of these characters over the course of the books, especially Pearl, who has to deal with her role as a mother and a sister in ways that she never expected to, and in doing so is forced to see herself in a clearer light than is comfortable.

Taken together, Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy are a great reading experience. They reach a level that neither of them could achieve alone. I was vaguely disappointed at the end of Shanghai Girls, but that was completely erased upon reading Dreams of Joy. I will now feel good about reading Lisa See’s other books. I still won’t rate her quite up there with Amy Tan’s early work, but she comes closer than I had thought.
( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
Headstrong 19-yo Joy smuggled herself into China in the 1950s to meet her birth father and ready to give herself to the communist cause. Falling in love, she marries a poor conniving peasant. Her mother—who escaped China years before—tracks her down, and they both witness the effect of communism: the Great Famine that’s estimated to have killed up to 55 million people. Obvious trigger warnings. A slow start so I struggled to stay interested. It’s very hard to read about someone so stubborn and making mistake after mistake. But the last 1/3 of the book picks up dramatically and becomes almost impossible to put down. I haven’t read Shanghai Girls, which would have made the read easier to understand the backstory but that didn’t hold me back too much. Not as good as The Island of Sea Women, which just blew me away, but a good solid, well-researched read by the same author. ( )
  KarenMonsen | Mar 26, 2022 |
I was disappointed in how Shanghai Girls ended, so I had a lot of hopes for resolution pinned on this book. But I ended up liking this book so much better! The characters went through a lot of personal growth, even if I did spend a lot of time wanting to smack Joy. There's a difference between finding your own way and willfully flying in the face of common sense and words of experienced advice, and she blew past that line before the book even began. It was a good thing her mother had all that personal character growth to pull her butt out of trouble! ( )
  Monj | Jan 7, 2022 |
I won an ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. I hadn't read the first book in this series, Shanghai Girls, but the set-up was explained well in a brief prologue and I never felt confused about anything. Dreams of Joy has a clear, simple and punchy style. At the start of the novel, I found the characters and setting to be somewhat flat, but the book grew more and more exciting as it went along. I ended up enjoying it a whole lot. It was perfect for a long plane trip where I needed something diverting. I have read a couple other books that described The Great Leap Forward (like Wild Swans by Jung Chang), but it was very interesting to see it from the point of view of Chinese-Americans who had returned to the motherland. I would definitely read other books by Lisa See. ( )
  jollyavis | Dec 14, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 132 (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 editionscalculated
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.

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