I think I read this before. That’s the first thought that popped into my head throughout my reading of the book this week. The setting, the story line, the sisterhood and friendship tensions; yup, I had definitely read this, my subconscious was telling my adult self. But, albeit due to my advancement in old-age forgetfulness, I devoured the story with hungry, seeking eyes.
The backdrop was alluring; the characters dropped into what seemed to be the perfect amalgam of making or breaking a human being. The archetypal character molds were set in the Eastern foundation of tradition, respect and obedience; all virtues I recognized and identified with, thus making my connection to the story all the more intrinsic. The plot was truly tragic; the melodrama of the circle of life playing out over three to four generations.
Maybe it’s because I’m a girl (alright, woman), but throughout the story I couldn’t differentiate between Lily and myself. It was like my emotions were pulled into the story line and I became the protagonist. For this, I hold Lisa See in high regard and bow down in respect of her expertise in wielding words and language to pull the reader into the depths of imagination. Of course, being the sucker of poetry that I am, the narrative songs the natal household sang in preparation of a young girl’s marriage were enough to put me in a pleasant trance.
While I wasn’t ecstatic over the denouement, I admit, it takes nothing away from the book; in fact it emboldens it. The themes that thread through the story are relevant to us all: of struggling through pain in order to gain a better station in life; of hard work and toil in order to just survive this cruel life; of the yearn and need to be loved and cared for in this life; of the need for a listening ear so that, even for a few seconds, we may unburden our shoulders and lean on another for comfort and strength.
I empathized. I sympathized. I cried. My parents, my siblings and my future flashed through my mind throughout the whole reading of the book. If nothing else, this novel portrays life in simplest terms; through pain, love, betrayal, hurt and regret until we breath our last. (Didn’t mean to get so morose at the end, but it seemed like a good way to sum up the book).
It’s a fantastic read; an especially cathartic one, at that. Enjoy!
黛安娜 다이아나 ഡയാന