Ever have a book that you bought with the intent to read immediately, but it ends up sitting somewhere for years? I discovered this gem among a giant box of books in my extra room. I estimate its been there since February 2000, when we moved into the house.
Amy Tan had me hooked since I read The Bonesetter's Daughter a few years back. I still haven't read The Joy Luck Club. I know, always read things out of order, but I've got to rave about The Hundred Secret Senses, which was equally amazing and addictive. I got through this book in two days - I couldn't put it down!!
This book was incredible. One of the very few that had me physically crying tears. I usually HATE books that do this, but by the end I was left with a happy, content feeling that I haven't been able to shake all day.
The book is about two sisters - Olivia and Kwan. On his death bed, Olivia's father confesses to her mother that he has another child in his native China. Olivia's mother makes a promise to bring Kwan from China and raise her as her own. 16 year old Kwan comes to live with then 6 year old Olivia, and quickly becomes her caretaker, teaching her the Chinese language and customs. Olivia's mother is rarely around, leaving Kwan to raise her and care for her.
Olivia is often resentful of Kwan for that reason, and embarassed of her for her superstitious ways. Kwan claims she has "yin eyes" and can communicate with the dead. She also claims she can remember past lives, and tells Olivia these stories constantly. Kwan's loyalty and devotion to Olivia never fail, despite Olivia's spoiled, cold reaction to her.
Olivia, along with Kwan and her estranged husband Simon, journey to China for a magazine assignment. Kwan acts as their guide, taking them to her native village. While there, Olivia goes through a tranformation, and gradually begins to accept and love Kwan, letting go of the resentment she's built up for years.
Kwan's broken English is hilarious throughout the novel, and I simply love the way Amy Tan pulls you in with her delightful prose. Yes, I said the word delightful. I was completely sucked in after the first few pages.
There's my book review for the year - and it wasn't about Anne Rice!! (Will miracles ever cease.)