Mothers and daughters — 5 years ago
This story of a Chinese American mother-daughter relationship is written with immense depth and authenticity. What deeply resonated with me, was the duality with which we daughters often grow up viewing our mothers. On the one hand, we see our first example of womanhood and we can’t help but want to emulate it, worshiping at our mothers’ alter, so to speak. On the other hand, as we grow up, we see behaviour and ways of being that we ‘know’ we’d never do or be. “When I grow up I’ll never do that or say that” is a phrase I’m also quite familiar with.
The daughter in this book, Rose, views her mother with this mixture of irritation and possession, and it is only when her mother’s lucidity in her old age comes into question that Rose starts to pay attention to her mother. Her mother, on the other hand, fears that she is forgetting things, and so writes an autobiography, starting in China when she was a little girl. Old family secrets are revealed, and Ruth finally sees her mother as a person in her own right, and not just an extension of herself.
The story is beautifully and intricately woven, somehow halfway between the exotic and the deeply familiar.