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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Period in China's History
Set in the late 1950s, "Dreams of Joy" is the story of young Joy Louie who leaves her comfortable home in Los Angeles' Chinatown for the People's Republic of China to find both her birth father and what she thinks will be a better way of life. Her association with a communist group at the University of Chicago has led her to believe that it isn't the evil portrayed by the...
Published on July 8 2011 by Betty K

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3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I thought it was going to be.
I was very disappointed with this book. I had high hopes because I really did enjoy Shanghai Girls. The beginning of the book wasn't so bad actually. It was pretty interesting. I liked the way you follow Joy through her journey to China - it was an eye opener, but her naivete also gets the best out of her as well. The reader already knows she's in for a quite a bit of...
Published on July 16 2012 by Karoline


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Period in China's History, July 8 2011
This review is from: Dreams of Joy: A Novel (Hardcover)
Set in the late 1950s, "Dreams of Joy" is the story of young Joy Louie who leaves her comfortable home in Los Angeles' Chinatown for the People's Republic of China to find both her birth father and what she thinks will be a better way of life. Her association with a communist group at the University of Chicago has led her to believe that it isn't the evil portrayed by the United States Government.

Since her birth father is a well-known artist in Shanghai, it is fairly easy for her to find him in spite of government restrictions. After his initial shock of discovering he even has a daughter, he seems happy to know her. She travels with him to the village of Green Dragon where she joins the commune and falls in love with a young peasant farmer.

In 1958, Mao announced the "Great Leap Forward," an attempt to increase agricultural and industrial production. However, three years of floods and bad harvest due to poor farming methods, severely damaged levels of production. The famine that occurred reportedly resulted in 4.5 million fatalities. The author masterfully transports us to that village and shows us in startling detail the horrors that result from this famine. Her attention to detail is wonderful and, while the book isn't a page-turner in the sense of a thriller, I was spellbound by the history of a period in China that has always fascinated me.

Although "Dreams of Joy" is the sequel to "Shanghai Girls," which I have never read, I found it stands alone quite well. Since I am always intrigued by the history of China, I will certainly go back and read the prequel, as well as Ms. See's earlier books. She is a skilful author with the ability to transfer the reader to the exotic country she writes about.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Story!, June 24 2011
By 
Louise Jolly "Bookaholic" (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dreams of Joy: A Novel (Hardcover)
On August 23, 1957, nineteen-year-old Joy, is a confused and upset Chinese girl. Everything she thought she knew about her birth has been a lie! The woman she thought was her mother was her aunt. Her aunt is actually her mother, and the man she loved as her father turns out not to have been her father at all and now he's dead. Her "biological" father is an artist from Shanghai whom both her mother and aunt have loved since before Joy was born. His name is Li Zhi-ge or Z.G. Li Zhi-ge used to paint Joy's mother and aunt when they were models back in Shanghai.

At 2 o'clock in the morning, Joy decides to leave their Los Angeles, California home and go to China. She packs a bag, writes her mother a note and quietly slips out the door. She walks to the nearest pay phone and calls her boyfriend Joe and tells him to get up, get dressed and get on a plane to San Francisco to meet her - they were going to China! Joe was having no part of that and hung up on her. However, Joy is still going to China, determined as ever to find her "real" father: "...even if he lives in a country of 600 million."

Joy is dazzled by Z.G. but is totally blinded by idealism and defiance and throws herself into the New Society of Red China, heedless of the dangers in the Communist regime.

Distraught by Joy's leaving and terrified for her safety, Pearl is determined to save her daughter, no matter the personal cost. From the crowded city to remote villages, Pearl confronts old demons and almost insurmountable challenges as she follows Joy, hoping for reconciliation.

A beautiful story of a family challenged by tragedy and time, but ultimately united by the resilience of love. Lisa See has a remarkable ability for writing and I've read every book she has written and with each one she just keeps outdoing herself. This is one you won't want to miss.
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5.0 out of 5 stars captivating, Oct. 8 2014
I really enjoyed this book. It was full of insight and gave a riveting story of the beginning enthusiasm of the PRC, followed by the reality of a planned economy, all the while interweaving the personal story of a young idealistic girl.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Lisa See is enjoyable reading material, Dec 17 2013
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This review is from: Dreams of Joy: A Novel (Paperback)
I have read several of Lisa See books & found them quite enjoyable.
Well worth reading during these cold wintry days.
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1.0 out of 5 stars The Narrator is Horrible, April 18 2013
This review is from: Dreams of Joy (Audio CD)
I have the hardcopy too so this is not a review of the book but of the recording. I want to do this because a bad audio can ruin a book. I get the audio for commute. This is brutal to listen too. Whole sections of it made me want to rip my earphones out. The narrator, Janet Song, constantly sounds like she has a mouth full of saliva. Its VERY annoying. I'm asian so don't try to pretend it's a racial thing. Have you ever seen an asian news anchor sound like she's gargling her own saliva? NO because it is unpleasant to listen to.

Buy the eBook or hardcopy instead. Or look for one without Janet Song as narrator.
As well, she places unneeded and inappropriate emotional stress in Joy's voice. She constantly sounds like she's on the verge of tears and that is not the voice of that character in every single friggin page. Especially when I feel like she might spit on me while she's talking because of the saliva audible in her words.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I thought it was going to be., July 16 2012
By 
Karoline (Richmond BC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Dreams of Joy: A Novel (Hardcover)
I was very disappointed with this book. I had high hopes because I really did enjoy Shanghai Girls. The beginning of the book wasn't so bad actually. It was pretty interesting. I liked the way you follow Joy through her journey to China - it was an eye opener, but her naivete also gets the best out of her as well. The reader already knows she's in for a quite a bit of pain and suffering and so sometimes you find yourself shaking your head at Joy's blind faith in the system.

I actually preferred Pearl's point of view of the story and her journey, because she had left so much behind and some questions were left unanswered. I loved how she went back home, back to her town and back to where she used to live, to find it radically changed, but she found people she recognized. It wasn't really a reunion that would be considered nice, but after so many years of not seeing these people, it was nice to see they were still there. I really liked reading Pearl because she showed a lot of strength and courage to go back and face anything to get Joy back.

When the Great Leap Forward comes along, I liked how this was added in, to make the plot move, and to put Joy and Pearl's journeys on a similar backdrop, but I just could not get into it. It was really slow and things just seemed to drag. The switching back and forth from Pearl to Joy wasn't so bad but the pace of the book was about the same as watching molasses being poured out of a container. Joy's plot really did seem to drag its' heels. I did not know how much of her stupidity I could take.

The ending wasn't so bad. However by the time I was almost done, I really wanted it to be done. It was very drawn out, and the writing just seemed really bland. It did not have the same dramatic tone as Shanghai Girls did. One thing I will mention though, this book does a good job in drawing out feelings from the reader.

It wasn't the greatest book, if you're a fan, or wanting to know what happens at the end of Shanghai Girls, well you might as well read it. Otherwise, you could just skip it. It's too slow and bland to be fully enjoyed which is too bad, it would have been an excellent novel otherwise.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dreams of Joy, May 28 2012
By 
Reader (Calgary, Alberta Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dreams of Joy: A Novel (Hardcover)
This is a must read after Shanghai Girls. Lisa See, again, does not disappoint with her storytelling about immigrants who migrate to the west for political or economic reasons and the first generations quest for their roots. See does this poignantly through her young, defiant daughter. The young woman's quest discloses numerous socioeconomic issues communism would prefer to conceal behind the bamboo curtain. A well researched page-turner.
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Dreams of Joy: A Novel
Dreams of Joy: A Novel by Lisa See (Paperback - Feb. 7 2012)
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