Dreams Of Joy: A Novel

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Dreams Of Joy: A Novel

by Lisa See

Random House Publishing Group | February 7, 2012 | Trade Paperback

Dreams Of Joy: A Novel is rated 4.0833 out of 5 by 12.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

In her most powerful novel yet, acclaimed author Lisa See returns to 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, 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’s and Pearl’s separate journeys converge, one of the most tragic episodes in China’s history threatens their very lives.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 400 pages, 8 × 5.15 × 0.81 in

Published: February 7, 2012

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0812980549

ISBN - 13: 9780812980547

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from I LOVED IT AND SO IT OUR BOOKCLUB! She's an amazing writer, you should read them all.
Date published: 2014-11-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Page turner This book prompted me to learn more about the history of Chinese communism. It was an excellent sequel to the "Shanghai Girls". The characters are powerful and the depiction is surreal. Lisa See's style of writing is also easy to read. I'm looking forward to read her other books.
Date published: 2014-01-06
Rated 1 out of 5 by from AUDIO VERSION TERRIBLE I have the hardcopy too so this is not a review of the book but of the recording. I want to do this because a bad audio can ruin a book. I get the audio for commute. This is brutal to listen too. Whole sections of it made me want to rip my earphones out. The narrator, Janet Song, constantly sounds like she has a mouth full of saliva. Its VERY annoying. I'm asian so don't try to pretend it's a racial thing. Have you ever seen an asian news anchor sound like she's gargling her own saliva? NO because it is unpleasant to listen to. Buy the eBook or hardcopy instead. Or look for one without Janet Song as narrator. As well, she places unneeded and inappropriate emotional stress in Joy's voice. She constantly sounds like she's on the verge of tears and that is not the voice of that character in every single friggin page. Especially when I feel like she might spit on me while she's talking because of the saliva audible in her words.
Date published: 2013-04-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Better than Shanghai Girls, I thought 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.
Date published: 2013-03-02
Rated out of 5 by from Excellent read. just as good as the first book. i highly recommend!!!!
Date published: 2013-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent read I read Shanghai Girls quite a while ago and debated whether I wanted to read the sequel for a little while. But when I did I couldn't put it down. I enjoyed it even more than the first book. The author does an excellent job of integrating the history of China during this time period, while maintaining the poignant story of Joy, Pearl and their struggles. I have read almost all of See's novels, and this was definitely one of my favourites.
Date published: 2012-08-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not the greatest... I was very disappointed with this book. I had high hopes because I really did enjoy Shanghai Girls. The beginning of the book wasn’t so bad actually. It was pretty interesting. I liked the way you follow Joy through her journey to China - it was an eye opener, but her naivete also gets the best out of her as well. The reader already knows she’s in for a quite a bit of pain and suffering and so sometimes you find yourself shaking your head at Joy’s blind faith in the system. I actually preferred Pearl’s point of view of the story and her journey, because she had left so much behind and some questions were left unanswered. I loved how she went back home, back to her town and back to where she used to live, to find it radically changed, but she found people she recognized. It wasn’t really a reunion that would be considered nice, but after so many years of not seeing these people, it was nice to see they were still there. I really liked reading Pearl because she showed a lot of strength and courage to go back and face anything to get Joy back. When the Great Leap Forward comes along, I liked how this was added in, to make the plot move, and to put Joy and Pearl’s journeys on a similar backdrop, but I just could not get into it. It was really slow and things just seemed to drag. The switching back and forth from Pearl to Joy wasn’t so bad but the pace of the book was about the same as watching molasses being poured out of a container. Joy’s plot really did seem to drag its’ heels. I did not know how much of her stupidity I could take. The ending wasn’t so bad. However by the time I was almost done, I really wanted it to be done. It was very drawn out, and the writing just seemed really bland. It did not have the same dramatic tone as Shanghai Girls did. One thing I will mention though, this book does a good job in drawing out feelings from the reader. It wasn’t the greatest book, if you’re a fan, or wanting to know what happens at the end of Shanghai Girls, well you might as well read it. Otherwise, you could just skip it. It’s too slow and bland to be fully enjoyed which is too bad, it would have been an excellent novel otherwise.
Date published: 2012-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Sequel An excellent followup novel to "Shanghai Girls", this picking up as Joy leaves for China to search for her biological father, and what she thinks will be an ideal life in communist China. The life envisioned by an idealistic Joy, at first seems perfect but gradually the reality of the communist regime sets in, as we are exposed to a very little talked about crisis that occurred in China leading to horrific living conditions, and leading to the death of millions. Family love , devotion, Chinese culture and history are the elements that make this novel a very interesting read. Lisa See, again, does a remarkable job in bringing these characters to life , at the same time telling a story of communist china that I was completely unaware of. I recommend reading "Shanghai Girls" first. It is not necessary but you will appreciate the characters and story line on a different level. I loved this experience.
Date published: 2012-05-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A very emotional story I have read Shanghai Girls which introduced me to Pearl and May,their life and tragedies. Now,Dreams of Joy is the story of May's daughter raised by Pearl. Joy,a young adult now,is blinded by finding out some family secrets and decides to throw herself into the new Society of Red China not a good choice!!! Lisa See is very vivid in her descriptions of China's history at that period...a glimpse of the untold. A great story of family challenged by tragedy. A very emotional story!!!
Date published: 2011-10-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Sequel I actually enjoyed this book even more than "Shanghai Girls," which was at times disturbing and difficult to read. "Dreams of Joy" has some hard moments, too, but it's such a journey. Lisa See takes us through Red China where we get to experience the political landscape, culture and relationships through two different lenses: One very Western, and one more traditionally Chinese. Shanghai Girls set the stage with character development, but I really fell in love with See's characters in this book.
Date published: 2011-09-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good, but not as good as the first I did enjoy reading this book but I was able to "put it down". Shanghai Girls was such an eye opening journey that I enjoyed so much. I picked up this book to see what the ending would be like. Shanghai Girls had left me wanting more. This book provided the conclusion I was hoping for but something was missing. I can't put my finger on it. I definately learned alot from this book.
Date published: 2011-08-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from a history lesson wrapped up in a wonderful story I always enjoy Lisa See's books, but this one allowed me to learn about a period in China's history my high school history classes never touched on. I want to know more! I like how her books have wonderful complex stories wrapped around true historial events. It is a real talent, you can tell that she has followed Amy Tan's model and in fact it appears they are friends in some way. More like this please!
Date published: 2011-08-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Story! On August 23, 1957, nineteen-year-old Joy, is a confused and upset Chinese girl. Everything she thought she knew about her birth has been a lie! The woman she thought was her mother was her aunt. Her aunt is actually her mother, and the man she loved as her father turns out not to have been her father at all and now he’s dead. Her “biological” father is an artist from Shanghai whom both her mother and aunt have loved since before Joy was born. His name is Li Zhi-ge or Z.G. Li Zhi-ge used to paint Joy’s mother and aunt when they were models back in Shanghai. At 2 o’clock in the morning, Joy decides to leave their Los Angeles, California home and go to China. She packs a bag, writes her mother a note and quietly slips out the door. She walks to the nearest pay phone and calls her boyfriend Joe and tells him to get up, get dressed and get on a plane to San Francisco to meet her – they were going to China! Joe was having no part of that and hung up on her. However, Joy is still going to China, determined as ever to find her “real” father: “…even if he lives in a country of 600 million.” Joy is dazzled by Z.G. but is totally blinded by idealism and defiance and throws herself into the New Society of Red China, heedless of the dangers in the Communist regime. Distraught by Joy’s leaving 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. A beautiful story of a family challenged by tragedy and time, but ultimately united by the resilience of love. Lisa See has a remarkable ability for writing and I’ve read every book she has written and with each one she just keeps outdoing herself. This is one you won’t want to miss.
Date published: 2011-06-24

– More About This Product –

Dreams Of Joy: A Novel

Dreams Of Joy: A Novel

by Lisa See

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 400 pages, 8 × 5.15 × 0.81 in

Published: February 7, 2012

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0812980549

ISBN - 13: 9780812980547

About the Book

Devastated after discovering the shocking truth about her mother and father, Joy (from See's bestselling "Shanghai Girls") flees to China to find a new life (and her real father)--and Pearl, realizing what has happened, sets out for Mao's China, resolved to find her daughter. A #1 "New York Times" bestseller.

Read from the Book

THE WAIL OF a police siren in the distance tears through my body. Crickets whir in a never- ending chorus of blame. My aunt whimpers in her twin bed at the other end of the screened porch we share— a reminder of the misery and embarrassment from the secrets she and my mother threw at each other during their argument tonight. I try to listen for my mother in her room, but she’s too far away. That silence is painful. My hands grab the bedsheets, and I struggle to focus on an old crack in the ceiling. I’m desperately attempting to hang on, but I’ve been on a precipice since my father’s death, and now I feel as though I’ve been pushed over the edge and am falling.Everything I thought I knew about my birth, my parents, my grandparents, and who I am has been a lie. A big fat lie. The woman I thought was my mother is my aunt. My aunt is actually my mother. The man I loved as my father was not related to me at all. My real father is an artist in Shanghai whom both my mother and aunt have loved since before I was born. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg— as Auntie May might say. But I was born in the Year of the Tiger, so before the gnawing blackness of guilt about my dad’s death and the anguish I feel about these revelations overpower me, I grip the sheets tighter, set my jaw, and try to force my emotions to cower and shrink before my Tiger ferocity. It doesn’t work. I wish I could talk to my friend Hazel, but it’s the middle of the night. I wish even more that I could be back at
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From the Publisher

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

In her most powerful novel yet, acclaimed author Lisa See returns to 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, 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’s and Pearl’s separate journeys converge, one of the most tragic episodes in China’s history threatens their very lives.

About the Author

Lisa See is the New York Times bestselling author of Shanghai Girls, Peony in Love, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Flower Net (an Edgar Award nominee), The Interior, and Dragon Bones, as well as the critically acclaimed memoir On Gold Mountain. The Organization of Chinese American Women named her the 2001 National Woman of the Year. She lives in Los Angeles.


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

“Astonishing . . . one of those hard-to-put-down-until-four-in-the-morning books . . . a story with characters who enter a reader’s life, take up residence, and illuminate the myriad decisions and stories that make up human history.”—Los Angeles Times “[Lisa] See is a gifted historical novelist. . . . The real love story, the one that’s artfully shown, is between mother and daughter, and aunt and daughter, as both of the women who had a part in making Joy return [come] to her rescue. . . . [In Dreams of Joy,] there are no clear heroes or villains, just people who often take wrong turns to their own detriment but for the good of the story, leading to greater strength of character and more durable relationships.”—San Francisco Chronicle “A heartwarming story of heroic love between a mother and daughter . . . No writer has better captured the voice and heart of Chinese culture.”—Bookreporter.com “Once again, See’s research feels impeccable, and she has created an authentic, visually arresting world.”—The Washington Post “Excellent . . . [Dreams of Joy] lives up to its predecessor’s magic.”—The Dallas Morning News “[Lisa] See’s fans will be glad to read more about Pearl, May and Joy, and See’s recurring themes of unbreakable family bonds and strong-willed women.”—The Oregonian “[See’s] prose rings like a temple bell.”—Los Angeles magazine “A vivid, haunting, and often graphic portrait of a country, and a family, in crisis.”—Booklist “See keeps her eyes focused on the women—their
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Bookclub Guide

1. Joy is frequently described in terms of her Tiger astrological sign. In Dreams of Joy, where do you see her acting true to her Tiger nature? Where do you see her acting un-Tiger-like?

2. Many of us grew up believing that the People’s Republic of China was “closed,” and that it remained that way until President Nixon “opened” it. Certainly Pearl (and even Joy, to a great extent) go to China with preconceived ideas of what they’ll see and experience. In what ways are they right—or wrong?

3. Does seeing the world through Joy’s eyes help you to understand Pearl? Similarly, does Pearl give insights into her daughter?

4. The novel’s title, Dreams of Joy, has many meanings. What does the phrase mean to the different characters in the novel? To Lisa? To the reader?

5. In many ways Dreams of Joy is a traditional coming-of-age novel for Joy. Lisa has said that she believes it’s also a coming-of-age novel for Pearl and May. Do you agree? If so, how do these three characters grow up? Do they find their happy endings?

6. Although May plays a key role in Dreams of Joy, she is always off stage. How do you feel about this? Would you rather have May be an onstage figure in this novel?

7. Pearl has some pretty strong views about motherhood. At one point she asks, “What tactic do we, as mothers, use with our children when we know they’re going to make, or have already made, a terrible mistake? We accept blame” (page 139). Later, she observes, “Like all mothers, I needed to hide my sadness, anger, and grief ” (page 177). Do you agree with her? Does her attitude about mothering change during the course of the novel?

8. Joy’s initial perception of China is largely a projection of her youthful idealism. What are the key scenes that force her to adjust her beliefs and her feelings in this regard?

9. Describe the roles that Tao, Ta-ming, Kumei, and Yong play in Dreams of Joy. Why are they so important, thematically, to the novel?

10. Food—or the severe lack of it—are of critical importance in Dreams of Joy. How does food affect Joy’s growth as a person? Pearl’s?

11. Let’s consider the men—whether present in the novel as living characters or not—for a moment. What influence do Sam, Z.G., Pearl’s father, Dun, and Tao have on the story? How do they show men at their best and worst? Are any of these characters completely good—or completely bad?

12. Dreams of Joy is largely a novel about mothers and daughters, but it’s also about fathers and daughters. How do Joy’s feelings toward Sam and Z.G. change over the course of the novel? Does Pearl’s attitude toward her father change in any way?

13. There are several moments in the novel when people have to choose the moral or ethical thing to do. Where are those places? What purpose do they play? And why do you think Lisa choose to write them?

14. Z.G. quotes a seventeenth-century artist when he says, “Art is the heartbeat of the artist.” How has this idea influenced his life? What impact does this concept have on Joy?

15. Ultimately, Dreams of Joy is about “mother love”—the love that Pearl feels for Joy, Joy feels for her mother, Joy experiences with the birth of her daughter, and the ongoing struggle between Pearl and May over who is Joy’s true mother. In what ways do secrets, disappointments, fears, and overwhelming love affect mother love in the story?