Monday, April 4, 2011

The Hundred Secret Senses ~ Book Review

I just finished reading this book by Amy Tan, and I really enjoyed it. The main character of Olivia, who tells the story to us, was interesting. We truly got to know her through the people that surrounded her and I liked her. I can't say she was the most passionate character I've ever read, but it's likely that it was supposed to be that way. She wasn't supposed to be extremely passionate, perhaps so everything around her seemed to stand out more.

The character I absolutely adored was Kwan. Kwan is Libby-ah's half-sister. Kwan is the girl with the yin eyes. Or, in translation, she sees dead people.

In the present times, Olivia tells us the story of her life. Of how she met Kwan, of growing up with a half-sister who didn't fit in, who made her not fit in, who told her stories every single minute she could about her past lives and the people she lived them with.

That's where I got lost along the way. Not once, not twice, but a few times. I just didn't get the stories about Kwan as other people. I understood the history, but for so long I just didn't get the need for it. It was enough for me that Kwan saw people who had passed - I believed it - I didn't need the whole reincarnation aspect while turning the pages. I just wanted to see how Kwan would try to get Libby-ah back with her not-yet-ex-husband. She seemed to feel they belonged together, absolutely know they belonged together and worked hard at convincing her sister of the same.

I enjoyed the details on Olivia's relationship with Simon, then and now, the memories, the struggle, the sadness. I enjoyed the family details and history. But I have to admit that I did skim a few flashbacks into Kwan's past lives. Not all of them, but sometimes I was just thinking, come on already.

And then we draw closer to the end. We head to China with them, we learn about Kwan's family, friends, her village. We want to learn more. And eventually we do. And that's when the history falls into place. The past lives finally MEAN something to us, the reader. I'm sure many have read this and knew straight away that they would be important, but for me I struggled with that.
And then I kept reading. The way the stories weave together. How everything ties together and the words, the words are incredible.

This was not an easy, fly through in a day or two kind of read, but it is well worth it, in my opinion. If you're looking for something new, something different, it's worth picking up a copy and taking your time to devour it. Definitely!

**I was not compensated in any way for this review. I did receive a copy of this book to facilitate my review. All opinions expressed are completely my own.**


  1. I've read a couple of her other books and liked them.

    I'm reading the Camel Bookmobile right now - pretty good so far!

  2. I find past lives interesting. perhaps I'll check it out.

  3. I read one of her books years ago. The Kitchen God's Wife, maybe?

  4. I Love This Book! It's one of my favorites.

  5. I'm reading Freedom right now, which is an epic read of all these characters' lives fitting together. I'm almost done. I think after this book, I will need a light one!

  6. I enjoyed her earlier books. This one seems too labour intensive for my life right now. It'll have to go to the "not yet" pile.

  7. I haven't read anything of hers yet, but she's quite popular. I need to just try one!


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