Tan's customary, illustrious writing fills this book with vivid characters that jump to life from the beginning. A sister, Kwan, arrives to the family and changes the life of the protagonist, Olivia, in profound ways, connecting her to a culture-rich history.
I read this ten years ago, yet Kwan remains one of my favorite literary characters to this day, residing with Catherine and Heathcliff.
Although I really gave this book every chance I could, I found the lengthy descriptions distracting and realized I didn't really much care for the characters.
I was not at all captivated by this book, which is unusual for an Amy Tan book. I've read her other works and I was sadly disappointed with this one. I thought the main character was self absorbed and not at all likable. I didn't sympathize with her or her "true Love". It was a bit confusing jumping into past lives and back again. I kept reading thinking that it would get better, but the ending was horrible. Yes, the main character reaches some sort redemption, however only through her sister Kwans sacrifices. I didn't care for this book, although others did.
Amy Tan sensitively draws the two main characters in this book, with all their vulnerabilities and blind spots. The reader is pulled into Kwan's "Yin World" so convincingly that in many ways it seems more "real" than the "real" world of her sister, Olivia ("Libby-ah"). This book truly enchants, and the story resolves elegantly. Beautifully written, compelling storytelling.
Excellent story with a surprise ending.