Title:The Woman Warrior
Author:Maxine Hong Kingston
Publication date: 1976
Recommended for: 14+
Rating: 4/5 stars
Kingston is a girl living among ghosts in The Woman Warrior. She is a Chinese, American, female immigrant working to separate fantasy from reality after growing up with so many tales. Throughout the memoirs she mixes both autobiography with mythology to create a compelling tale about the search for the identities of Chinese immigrants in the United States. In five sections she revists her mother’s “talk stories” and applies the lessons to her own childhood. It is clear Kingston struggles to find a medium between two polarizing worlds, each with unique cultures. In doing so she represents the challenges that anyone who is an immigrant or with a multicultural background faces.
Overall, the novel leaves me with a lot of questions. It is difficult to tell whether Kingston came to any acceptance or real change. However I really enjoy the way she weaves in truths that are not necessarily true. Each of the five memoirs are connected in ways that are not obvious, yet the overlapping details leave clues as to how they are connected. A few of Kingston’s memoirs fit the theme of magical realism, where the characters treat fantastical elements as completely normal. By blurring the lines of fiction and nonfiction, Kingston shows how certain elements from another culture are difficult to grasp.
Growing up, I personally have not read many books that write about places outside of the United States, which makes Kingston’s telling of her childhood very refreshing. At times I was confused because there is no definite plot, however the point is to capture snapshots of her history. I recommend The Woman Warrior to those who seek a rich cultural perspective and truths among myths.