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YMMV: The Joy Luck Club
  • Reality Subtext: Amy Tan essentially lifted An-Mei's backstory from what she was told about and researched about the backstory of her grandmother. Both the victimized An-Mei's mother and the evil Second Wife are modeled after her grandmother's alleged mannerisms and backstory.
    • Several details that Amy thought she made up for the story were real. Amy's mother had been careful not to reveal certain details and later asked Amy how she found out about them.
  • Rounded Character: A specifically-praised aspect of the novel is that it was among the most prominent to portray Chinese-American women as such.
  • Tear Jerker: Suyuan Woo giving up her twins.
    • Ani-Mei's mother circumstances.
    • A young Ying-Ying getting her hopes broken when she gets lost and seemingly when she is seeking help from the Moon Lady, she discovers it's just a male actor.
    • Also, when Suyuan assures her daughter that she is not entirely worthless and gives her a jade necklace.
    • In the film, Ying-Ying's son drowning.
    • In the film, how Lindo's mother dutifully but reluctantly surrenders Lindo to her betrothed's family.
    • The book is filled to the brim with them.
      • Also, Jing-Mei meeting her half-sisters.
      • Every subplot's climax in the film is tear jerking, actually... well, except Lindo's.
  • True Art Is Angsty: Every main character, especially mothers, all have messed up life. Everybody love it.
  • Values Dissonance: Some of the parenting methods from 1920s and 1950s China may seem abusive to a modern audience.
    • Waverly's homophobic comment about Jing-mei's gay hair stylist: "He could have AIDS. And he is cutting your hair, which is like cutting a living tissue." Granted, we're not really supposed to agree with her, but this reflects an attitude about AIDS which was very common in the 1980s, when the book was written. Only the most virulent homophobes would say something like that now.
  • The Woobie: An-mei's mother, most definitely.

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