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Review: The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

This was my first book by Amy Tan and I cannot believe I haven’t read something by her before! I had heard about The Joy Luck Club, but had never picked it up, yet it is now on my immediate to read list now. The Valley of Amazement is a stunning tale about women who both find and become mothers and their experience as daughters. These complex and sometimes tragic characters find motherhood in places they never expected: above them in an inn, or from a former courtesan. This rich story take places against an elaborate setting with great detail. It is the story of the fierce protection of mothers and features a whole cast of women who are beautifully flawed and yet endearing.

You can almost feel the same rejection, the fear of not knowing, and the pain of being out of place with the characters. They all embark on various journeys looking for love in their life who ultimately seek to find external affirmation when they needed to find self-acceptance and love. So often in love our images of ourselves and our loves create illusions that haunt our dreams. Pulling back the curtain, we realize that perhaps we only love versions of ourselves and that the truest love is the love we have for our self, the confidence in our self-worth to believe ourselves worthy of that deep love. The array of female characters stand out as the driving force behind this complex story full of hidden answers, deception, and betrayal in the name of love. They are multi-dimensional strong characters who must endure numerous challenges flung at them and who confront these obstacles with a fierce survival instinct and who dare to believe in their love and self-worth.

This story highlights moments of jubilation, triumph, and sorrow. It describes terrible mistakes and miscommunications that can only occur between family and loved ones. At the heart of this intricate and elaborate story is a story of family and the pain we do to the ones we love the most and, in the end, the path we must take towards coming to terms with those wrongs. It tells, with refreshing honesty, the ways we contribute to our own demise, the ways we make fools of ourselves for love, and the rocky path we take to follow our heart.

Being adopted and never knowing my birth mother, this book touches the depths of my heart, bringing me to tears numerous times. Describing both mothers who have lost their daughters, and daughters who grew up feeling abandoned and unloved, this book spoke to me words in a language I never thought I knew. This book provides a hauntingly beautiful description of the relations between mothers and daughters both as children, with the naivety and misunderstandings, to the mature relations between adults, full of apologies and explanations.

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