2017-05-26 13:04:31 UTC
Dreams of Joy takes place 20 years later. Joy is grown and a university student in Chicago, and completely idealistic about the Peoples Republic of China. A government investigation into the family (its 1957)leads to great tragedy and a family quarrel causing Joy to learn her supposed parents are her aunt Pearl and uncle, and her mother is really her aunt May and her father the unknown artist. So she runs away to China making several blunders on her entry losing her papers and passport in the process.
Her mother Pearl follows her to China 2 days later to bring her back. Unfortunately when the artist is found he's in political trouble and is sent to a country village. Joy goes with him and falls in love. Pearl returns to Shanghai and lives in her previous home with several other people in the new system, taking up a position as a garbage collector while she spends months trying to find Joy. Things don't go well, and Joy refuses to reconnect with Peal when found. Joy returns to the country village and despite warnings that she doesn't know what she is doing, she marries into a peasant family and Pearl is forced to return to Shanghai without her.
The rest of the story is the 3 years they live in China during the great famine cause by the Great Leap Forward policies. I have liked all See's books, but this one set in relatively modern times was a powerful reading experience. It gives a really close look at the transition period when the Chinese people were learning to put aside traditions and become communists. The deprivation and famine in the countryside, and comparison of the changes to the cities like Shanghai painted a picture just knowing facts about that period could not really make one understand. It truly makes you understand how it came to be that millions died due to mismanagement by the government. Along side that is the struggle by Pearl to make sense of what has happened in her girlhood home and friends and to reconnect with and rescue Joy and her child.
Although it was placed in a time much later that the stories by Pearl Buck this one much more than the others is reminiscent of her writing. My goodness I had not been expecting so much power when I started reading this one.
I know its not a mystery, but this was a fantastic read. I hope some of you might venture to read it. And it does have a happy ending but nail biting suspense right up until the end and Pearl, Joy as their loved ones work to survive starvation and escape back to the USA.