Sunday, February 12, 2012

Book Review: The Hundred Secret Senses

I first discovered Amy Tan in high school with the Joy Luck Club. She is an unbelievable storyteller and this is the fourth book of hers that I have read. A very common theme in her books is this sense of being caught between two cultures that are so different, never really completely belonging to one or the other. Despite not being Asian-American I can definitely relate to this feeling of having a foot in two worlds, and of the kids like me of my generation having to create their own culture and identity that is not constrained by the customs or values of a single country.

This book comes with a heavy grain of salt warning. There is a very mystical and superstitious element to the book, which if you are of a cynical and/or skeptical mind you may find it a little annoying. However it is important to always keep in mind that this is fiction, Amy Tan can create whatever world she wants. Even though the main character of the book has a skeptical nature you feel the author guiding you towards routing for her to "open her eyes", the way you bemoan the token cynic in Christmas movies that refuse to believe in Santa until the very end.

All in all this was not my favorite Amy Tan book. I feel that her best work came to us in The Kitchen God's Wife, with the Joy Luck Club coming in a close second. Having said that, I still feel that Amy Tan is a great writer, she knows how to keep you company in a warm bed on a cold night, and if you are in to a slightly more sentimental and mystical story of family, friendship and ghosts, this is definitely one of the best to fall into that category.

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