Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Amy Tan's The Opposite of Fate is exceedingly intriguing; not only is this a readable book, but it also keeps the reader on the edge of their seat.
The word mother is used 487 times in Amy Tan's The Opposite of Fate
Like many of her other books, Tan continues to revisit the theme of mother-daughter relationships, particularly the tensions between a Chinese immigrant and her American-born children.
However, this book consists of her collection of essays, some of which has been previously published. Her first collection of nonfiction writing explores her family traditions such as their belief in fate to self-determination, and, finally, to her hard-won success that she has always striven towards.
Moreover, she reveals to us the true stories behind her fictional writing by providing anecdotes. For instance, Lu Ling's (the fictional character from The Bonesetter's Daughter) struggle with Alzheimers was actually created from Tan's own experience with her mother's final years.
Additionally, The Joy Luck Club's idea of a mother fleeing from China to San Francisco springs from her own mother's escape from a "bad man" in China. She also interweaves a light humor throughout her novel, such as her clarification of a past relationship with an older German man who had close contacts with drug dealers and organized crimes.
This book is like an onion because it has many layers, and as you continue to peel each layers of skin you go even more in depth about the various dramas that has plagued her entire life. As she reminisces about her family's life, she brings a cumulative emotional weight that has always been a burden on her.
Not only will this book make you wanting more, but it will also keep you engaged in it because all her stories seem so unfathomable that it will make one wonder how all her tragedies were transformed into a heart-warming survival story. Tan confesses that her transformation "rests somewhere in the journey between the old world and the new, between her mother's traditional sense of fate and her own American sense of self-determination."
However, as the readers continue to read her essays, we realize the truly fateful elements that helped steer her life. Her final, closing essay discuss about her battle with Lyme disease in which she reveals her final ambivalence toward fate. She concludes that "as a storyteller, [she knows] that if [she does not] like the ending, [she can] write a better one."
However, she realizes that life is not that easy because, in reality, that can be a struggle.