Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 168
The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan revolves around the relationship between two sisters. Olivia, a Chinese-American born in the United States, is not happy when her father tells her mother he left a daughter in China. When Olivia is five, their father dies, and her 18-year old half-sister Kwan moves to the United States. Olivia is embarrassed by Kwan and thinks she’s strange. Kwan believes she can see the dead, and ends up being a sort of surrogate mother to Olivia, whose mother is largely absent from her life, though caring. Years later, with Olivia’s 17-year marriage to Simon on the rocks, Kwan encourages Olivia to go to China, with her primary motive being getting Olivia and Simon back together. Simon has never quite gotten over the death of Elza, a former girlfriend, and this preoccupation has driven a wedge between him and Olivia. The three — Olivia, Simon, and Kwan — travel to China, where Olivia learns what her heritage and family really mean to her.