Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
I cannot begin to tell you how satisfying it was to read Lisa See’s Dreams of Joy after being thoroughly and utterly disappointed with Allegiant. Moving from one story’s let-down of a conclusion to See’s sequel to Shanghai Girls was rewarding while being informative, at times upsetting, and altogether a very good read.
If you haven’t read Shanghai Girls, you might not want to continue reading this post as it will inevitably give spoilers to its ending.
Dreams of Joy picks up exactly where Shanghai Girls left off. Pearl’s daughter Joy has fled the United States after an upsetting series of events and has made her way to the People’s Republic of China in search of her real father. Joy is under the impression that living in the communist state will provide her with a rewarding and happy life. Upon learning that Joy has gone to China, Pearl follows immediately after. Both Joy and Pearl must heal individually while adjusting to communist China. While Pearl has been wary all along of the changes her country has undergone, Joy soon learns the hard way that things aren’t perfect in China, despite what the propaganda would have people believe.
In my previous post on Shanghai Girls, I said “It’s quite interesting looking back at my grade school education and thinking how much might have been passed over in either our nations past, or in world history that didn’t have a direct effect on America.” After reading Dreams of Joy this idea was stressed even further. I had ZERO clue about a lot of the Chinese history that was presented in this book. It was embarrassing to discover how little I knew about events that took place barely sixty years ago. I like to think that I was a good student (let’s be real, I was a total teacher’s pet) and that I paid attention pretty well in school. At no point do I remember learning what I learned from reading Dreams of Joy.
Dreams of Joy was a wonderful piece of historical fiction. While detailing some truly horrific aspects of history, the message of Dreams of Joy is one of family and love and its ability to overcome life’s obstacles. I highly recommend reading this book (but only after first reading Shanghai Girls)!