(I want to apologize first for not posting this earlier this week. I thought I had scheduled it. Turns out, I didn't. Brain fart on my part. It happens).
I really enjoyed my time spend with Tan. It was like visiting an old friend I didn't even know I had. There was something very comforting in reading this tale about mothers and daughters, and the gaps that come between them.
I am fortunate that I have a really good relationship with my mother. We disagree sometimes, but we go out to lunch and talk about everything. I am grateful that I have that and can count on that.
So perhaps I cannot relate to the women in this book, who cannot understand who their mothers are, or why they are the way they are. We all have private experiences that make us who we are and that we cannot even begin to explain to even those who are closest to us.
This novel is an example of those moments-those places and times where we fall within ourselves and discover things that we hold private.
I want to share a few small sections that I loved. This first one is from "The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates,"
"When something that violent hits you, you can't help but lose your balance and fall. And after you pick yourself up, you realize you can't trust anybody to save you-not your husband, not your mother, not God. So what can you do to stop yourself from tilting and falling all over again?" (128).
Here is another section from "Queen Mother of the Western Skies,"
"I know how it is to be quiet, to listen and watch, as if your life were a dream. You can close your eyes when you no longer want to watch. But when you no longer want to listen, what can you do?" (242).
My favorite is from the chapter or story called "Feathers from a Thousand Li Away,"
"I wiped my eyes and looked in the mirror. I was surprised at what I saw. I had on a beautiful read dress, but what I saw was even more valuable. I was strong. I was pure. I had genuine thoughts inside that no one could see, that no one could ever take away from me. I was like the wind," (53).
So yes, the book is about discovering the differences between East and West, the old and the new, and the stories we all have inside and never tell. It is powerful without being overbearing and shouting in your face. It is simple, and beautiful, and everything I needed to read.
"So this is what I will do. I will gather together my past and look. I will see a thing that has already happened. The pain that cut my spirit loose. I will hole that pain in my hand until it becomes hard and shiny, more clear. And then my fierceness can come back, my golden side, my black side. I will use this sharp pain to penetrate my daughter's tough skin and cut her tiger spirit loose. She will fight me, because this is the nature of two tigers. But I will win and giver her my spirit, because this is the way a mother loves her daughter," (286).