Book Review: "Her Mother's Voice"- Author Anna Woo has created a story that is both honest and endearing. It portrays with veracity the often secret struggles between daughters and mothers and the invisible struggle that racism ignites in the heart of those who suffer it.
BOOK REVIEW: Her Mother’s Voice
AUTHOR: By Anna Woo
GENRE: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Asian American Fiction
In her first fictional novel, Anna Woo captures with honesty and tenderness the tension that often surrounds mother-daughter relationships. The family tension in this story is exacerbated by the protagonist’s cultural struggle. Emily is a child who grew up as a Chinese minority in Canadian mainstream culture. The cultural conflict this poses has laden the protagonist with shame, guilt, and anger. Emily grew up with a raging war inside her between the shame her mother’s behavior produces in a disapproving culture and her own cultural pride. This conflict adds salt to injury in the tension between Emily and her mother. Author Anna Woo weaves the two tensions well together in a story that is funny and endearing. Her Mother’s Voice is an easy reading that will bring smiles and tears to your face. It also gives voice to the often secret struggle in mother-daughter relationships.
Emily was born in Canada from Chinese parents. But she could be a Latina born in the USA or a Caribbean living in London. The issues of racism —both the racism that comes from outside and the issues of self-rejection that result— are well depicted in this fictional story.
Ms. Woo created such a strong, true-to-life emotional weaving of the character that there are chapters were I found myself holding my breath, though this is by no means a fast-paced story.
The longing for intimacy in a mother-daughter relationship plagued by secrets and emotional distance truly touched me.
As her mother faces cancer, a new topic is introduced: Western vs. Chinese medicine and attitudes. Unfortunately, this topic —which had great potential— was not as well developed and has a rather abrupt ending; which affects the novel’s resolution.
Her Mother’s Voice captures a daughter’s voice with a veracity that will make you smile. The mother’s ghost inside the daughter and the contradictory behavior this triggers is also well portrayed. This is the strength of the novel and will be your delight as a reader.
I’d like to see two things improved in this otherwise fine story.
Firstly, the story deserves a thorough proofreading, as it is plagued by errors that could have been easily corrected and tend to put the reader off. I recommend that you read ahead as it is worth it. But turn off your Perfectionist and Inner Editor so that you can enjoy the story.
Secondly; I feel that the ending was too abrupt and cheated the story of the resolution it deserves.
That’s why I give this story a 3-star rating.
(3 / 5)
|Anna Woo was first published in 1993 in a collection of short stories called Sharing our Experience, by the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women. She has a Master Degree in Education in Counseling Psychology from the University of Toronto/Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (1997). As well, she completed the Creative Writing program through The Humber School for Writers in 2002.
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