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Dreams of Joy

A Novel
By: Lisa See
Narrated by: Janet Song
Series: Shanghai Girls, Book 2
Length: 15 hrs and 43 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,503 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In her beloved New York Times best sellers Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, and, most recently, Shanghai Girls, Lisa See has brilliantly illuminated the potent bonds of mother love, romantic love, and love of country. Now, in her most powerful novel yet, she returns to these timeless themes, continuing the story of sisters Pearl and May from Shanghai Girls, and Pearl’s strong-willed 19-year-old daughter, Joy.

Reeling from newly uncovered family secrets, and anger at her mother and aunt for keeping them from her, Joy runs away to Shanghai in early 1957 to find her birth father—the artist Z.G. Li, with whom both May and Pearl were once in love. Dazzled by him, and blinded by idealism and defiance, Joy throws herself into the New Society of Red China, heedless of the dangers in the communist regime.

Devastated by Joy’s flight 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. Yet even as Joy’s and Pearl’s separate journeys converge, one of the most tragic episodes in China’s history threatens their very lives.

Acclaimed for her richly drawn characters and vivid storytelling, Lisa See once again renders a family challenged by tragedy and time, yet ultimately united by the resilience of love.

©2011 Lisa See (P)2011 Random House

Critic Reviews

“See’s emotional themes are powerful... the bonds of sisterhood [and] the psychological journey of becoming an American.” ( The Washington Post)
“A broadly sweeping tale.... The detail is thoughtful and intricate.” ( The New York Times)
“[See evokes] a time and place with tantalizing detail.” ( San Francisco Chronicle)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    3 out of 5 stars

awful reader

the story was just so-so. the reader, however, made it a bad experience. I am proud to say I made it to the end.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great completion to the story

What about Janet Song’s performance did you like?

As with Shanghai Girls and Snowflower and the Secret Fan, Janet Song provided the perfect voice for this story. Each character was distinct, and she handled even the male voices well. I cannot imagine a better voice for Lisa See's stories.

Any additional comments?

Shanghai Girls had me completely captivated, and I eagerly jumped right into Dreams of Joy to continue the saga. While I found myself getting irritated and impatient with Joy for rejecting every piece of sound advice she was given knowing that she would have a rude awakening very soon, I admired Pearl for her courage, loyalty and steadfast commitment to save her daughter from herself. The historical setting was facinating, showing the madness of the Great Leap Forward - making disasterous policies in opposition to all conventional wisdom about agritulture and manufacturing. "Quantity over quality" and the criminal disregard for human life nearly destroyed one of the great cultures of history. While the ending may have been somewhat unrealistic, it did provide a very satisfactory ending to a great story.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Dreams of Joy and all of Lisa See's books

They are amazing but you will love this book even better if you first listen to Shanghai Girls which is the book about this girls family and there entrance into the American culture and thier struggle in the United States. The author has an amazing insight into family relationships, especially the depth between sisters.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Buy if there aren't others in your Wish List.

Took me about 83ish chapters to get me interested. Not sure if it was the narrator's whiny voice of "Joy" or just the unbelievable character. Ugh and groan. The other books, leading up to this one, I very much enjoyed, but this one seemed beyond what I could buy into. Back few chapters were much better than first. The character of Joy seemed like an incredible idiot and the narrator was so sappy. I am torn...listen if you can stand the whining.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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There should not have been a Sequel. NOT GOOD!

Any additional comments?

I had read Shanghai girls and loved the story of strong women making positive changes in their life and overcoming many trials, but this book is so …. Stupid, for lack of a better word. Joy is stupid and makes stupid decisions. It is frustrating to listen to her continue to be stubborn and make stupid mistakes. It was not worth the time and I wish I had never bought it. It was a waste of my money.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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What it is to be Chinese, What it is to be free

After listening to Shanghai Girls, I couldn't wait to start the sequel. The story of young idealistic Joy, sweet innocent daughter of Pearl who flees INTO communist China is absolutely engrossing, and like so many young people who get caught up in a dream. And the lives of May and Pearl also continue, as they face heartbreaking truths about themselves and their past. The historical facts included in this fictional story about what happened inside China during the early years of Mao are chilling, eye opening, even to us who think we know the evils of communism. The first hand accounts of the suffering and death of the Chinese people at the hands of this regime are horrifying, and the shift from glorious hope in equality to eventual utter despair of these proud, resilient people . . . well, it is evil in it's purest form. It is about power. It isn't and never was about equality.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Captivating and well worth a credit

Where does Dreams of Joy rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

If you have listened to the first book "Shanghai Girls" and if you liked that book, this is the sequel. In my opinion, the sequel is even better than Shanghai Girls. You will enter a world that you probably have heard of, but not really "met" in depth, such as Lisa See will introduce you too. This book enrobes part history of PROC, USA and most importantly brings you closer to understand what happens to humans when we are not allowed to be human. The book is very well researched, well written and I could not put my Ipod down! It is not predictable (whohoo)!!

What did you like best about this story?

The human aspect, the descriptions of the different characters and that is was not predictable!

Which scene was your favorite?

When Joy convinces the leader to let her send the package to her mom

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, it was - I got up this Saturday morning at 6:00 am , and I finished the remaining story at noon! What will I read next?

Any additional comments?

Excellent book, not light hearted, but not too academically hard that you can't follow the thoughts.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Must read sequel

This is a sequel to Shanghai Girls. It is almost an essential read because Shanghai Girls leaves the story open.
Overall, this is very depressing. Communism taking over China and the abuse of the original idea.
But it is also heartwarming the depth of love, dedication and determination to strive for happiness.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Not Lisa See's best work

What would have made Dreams of Joy better?

After the secret fan - I was eager to listen to another of her books, but found in this book the storyline wasn't plausible and focused on the main character's insecurity around mundane observations. Wow, no indoor plumbing in rural China - who knew?

Has Dreams of Joy turned you off from other books in this genre?

Nope.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Think it was the story - too much whining.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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If you have a choice, read it, don't listen

I liked reading about the great leap forward. While some of the book was a bit preposterous: why would a 19 year old going to University of Chicago leave home with a few day's notice to go live in China? And then ( spoiler alert) marry an illiterate man? Still, I found the book interesting enough to listen to the whole thing, , and learned a lot.
I usually quit a book when I don't like the reader. But story was good enough to force me to listen to a whiny reader who sounded like she was going to burst out crying every sentence. I don't recall being so bothered by this in Shanghai Girls, but in this book, it drove both me and my sister nuts! I won't listen to this reader again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful