Dreams of Joy Reviews

Publishers Weekly
See revisits Shanghai Girls sisters Pearl and May in this surefire story of life in Communist China. Joy, the daughter Pearl has raised as her own in L.A., learns the truth about her parentage and flees to China to seek out her father and throw herself into the Communist cause, giving See ample opportunity to explore the People’s Republic from an unlikely perspective as Joy reconnects with her artist father, Z.G. Li, and the two leave sophisticated Shanghai to go to the countryside, where Z.G., whose ironic view of politics is lost on naïve Joy, has been sent to teach art to the peasants. Joy, full of political vigor, is slow to pick up on the harsh realities of communal life in late 1950s China, but the truth sinks in as Mao’s drive to turn China into a major agriculture and manufacturing power backfires. Pearl, meanwhile, leaves L.A. on a perhaps perilous quest to find Joy. As always, See creates an immersive atmosphere–her rural China is far from postcard pretty–but Joy’s education is a stellar example of finding new life in a familiar setup, and See’s many readers will be pleased to see the continued development of Pearl and May’s relationship. Looks like another hit. (May)

“As always, See creates an immersive atmosphere. . . . Looks like another hit.”— «Publishers Weekly, starred review

“A riveting, meticulously researched depiction of one of the world’s worst human-engineered catastrophes.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A stunningly-researched epic about revolutionary-era China.”– Los Angeles magazine

“A vivid, haunting, and often graphic portrait of a country, and family, in crisis.”—Booklist

“With each new novel, Lisa See gets better and better. Each work is more tightly woven, richer with information, its characters more memorable than the last. .. . . And so it is with Dreams of Joy. . . . The scope of the novel is astonishing. . . . one of those hard-to-put-down-until-four-in-the-morning books — but happily, the action is not all external. This is often the difference between forgettable and unforgettable books. . . . Stories of the lives of women in the People’s Republic of See’s novel are particularly deep and unforgettable. . . . one of the best depictions of the true spirit of motherhood you’ll ever see in fiction. . . . Of course there are dangers in confusing fiction with history, but there is so much nuance and so little evidence of revisionism in Dreams of Joy. In the end, it’s a story with characters who enter a reader’s life, take up residence, and illuminate the myriad decisions and stories that make up human history.”—Los Angeles Times

“In the hands of a lesser writer, Mao’s China could easily become a faded backdrop against which the personal drama of Joy and Pearl’s journey plays out, but not with See. Ever the consummate historian, See brings to life the realities of China during Mao’s Great Leap Forward, providing a fascinating and frightening new world for her readers to immerse themselves in. Succeeding as both a sequel and a stand-alone novel, Dreams of Joy is an immensely satisfying and edifying read.”—BookPage

“A tale of two 1950s tiger moms and the daughter they fight to save.”—People

“Once again, See’s research feels impeccable, and she has created an authentic, visually arresting world.”—Washington Post

Amazon’s Best Book of June!!

“See’s fans will be glad to read more about Pearl, May and Joy, and See’s recurring themes of unbreakable family bonds and strong-willed women.” —Portland Oregonian

“See is a gifted historical novelist. She illuminates a turning point in Chinese history when people still remembered the inequities of the feudal caste system, and in some cases embodied them. …See is unflinching in her willingness to describe it all.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Dreams of Joy is less about the radical political and economic change of Mao’s rule and more about the enduring social framework, which is See’s forte. As she shows, family and village continue to be the central organizing devices in Chinese culture, and even though the Communist regime exalts women in theory, the facts tell a different story.” —Seattle Times

“Readers are drawn into Lisa See’s novels in part because they become intimate with her characters’ lives. It matters not whether the setting is the 17th or 20th century, the stories are vivid because their inhabitants live fully woven into the cloth of their time.”—Denver Post

“With this fraught, adversity-filled story set at an interesting time in history, See proves again with her meticulous research, knowledge and insights of Chinese culture that she can spin a character-rich tale that enlightens.”—Miami Herald