My travels through the world of strong women leads me to a writer. When I was in high school, my English teacher gave out copies of The Woman Warrior: Memories of a Girlhood among Ghosts. At the time, I did not realize that it would be such a powerful and thought provoking book. I enjoyed it as much as a girl living in the suburbs of Philadelphia could enjoy a book about so many foreign ideas. The currents of family tradition and Western philosophies didn’t translate well in my adolescent mind. So when I picked it up again a few years ago and read it with my adult eyes, the view skewed and amazing pictures emerged.
Here was a woman who was haunted by the ghosts, not only of her past, but of generations and generations of women. Pain and sorrow seemed to walk with almost every one of her memories, but these terrible tribulations give the narrator of this novel strength.
Maxine Hong Kingston was born in California in 1940, and she published this book in 1976 among a flurry of excitement. She truly became a leading voice for the Chinese culture in America. Her writing conveys an honesty and behind-the-curtain feel that can only be viewed as an unbelievable strength.
The book begins with the death of her aunt whom she never met, but Kingston was told the tale over and over again. These frequent retellings allow her to paint the story for her reader with remarkable imagery. The basic gist is this: her aunt was married and while her husband was off finding work, she became pregnant. She tried to hide the pregnancy, but soon after the baby was born, the village rose up against them. She and the baby were found dead at the bottom of the village well. Killed for their disgrace.
If you want a memoir that reads like an epic poem come to life, you should check this one out. In a world where Asian woman are sometimes viewed as weak, you will be enlightened by the strength you find in these pages.