The Woman Warrior

The Woman Warrior

I grew up in a small Midwestern town where a variety of culture was scarce at best. I think that's one of the biggest reasons I was shocked by Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts. It was an eye-opening piece of literature for a small-town guy like me and the fact that it was on my high school reading list astonished me.

 

Now, looking back, I can see what a masterpiece the book truly is. It wasn't an attack on American culture as I'd first thought, but a vivid recounting of one Chinese woman's childhood as she struggled to make sense of the two worlds she was living in.

I recently reread the book, assuming that my own maturity would give me a different perspective on the book, and I was surprised to find it was still shocking, but in a completely different way. As a younger man, it was a slightly difficult read, because Kingston's style is very unique. The book is written as five separate, but interwoven stories and her imagery leaves you to wonder where the split between reality and lore divides.

 

However, in my thirties, the book has a totally different essence and triumph to it. The style still takes some getting used to, but her story is more poetic and the struggles, questions, frustration and even love in it is better understood. Kingston wrote from a very emotional, bitter, yet empowered place as she tells of the American “ghosts” in California and the ghosts of China's oppression, view and treatment of women.

 

The Woman Warrior isn't a read for everyone, but if you want to read a memoir that evokes questions, answers and true emotion, you might want to give it a try.