Title: Dreams of Joy
Author: Lisa See
Dreams of Joy is the sequel to Lisa See's 2009 novel Shanghai Girls and takes off exactly where the last novel leaves off, with nineteen-year-old Joy getting on a plane for China after she learns that the woman she actually thought was her mother (Pearl) is actually her aunt and her favorite aunt (May) is actually her mother. Joy is also reeling from her father's suicide, and she feels that she may have inadvertently played a part in his desperation. Joy sees life in America as too complicated, so she decides to find her birth father and embrace the glories of communism in China.
Of course, she finds that life in China in the 1950s is represented differently in propaganda than it is in real life. In Dreams of Joy, she encounters many of the hardships that faced rural Chinese in the 1950s. Pearl and ZG (Joy's birth father) also play a pivotal role in the novel.
In general, I liked the book quite a lot. Sometimes, when I think about adopting from China, I wonder if our daughter will be resentful at being plucked from what will soon be the nation with the largest GDP in the world and plopped down in an aging superpower past its prime. But when I read Dreams of Joy, I saw what life was like in the 1950s in China, and feel that it's quite possible that life is still fairly difficult for many of those living in rural China. The book is a quick read and very engrossing, although there are times when I felt characters could have been a little richer (Joy's husband Tao, for instance) or things came together a little too neatly (the end reads a bit like a Shakespearean comedy). All in all though, a good read and one that I appreciate better than I did when I was reading Shanghai Girls purely for entertainment value.