Select language, opens an overlay
Where the Past Begins

Where the Past Begins

A Writer's Memoir

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"From New York Times bestselling author Amy Tan, a memoir on her life as a writer, her childhood, and the symbiotic relationship between fiction and emotional memory"--
Publisher: New York, NY : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2017]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062319296
Branch Call Number: B T1532T 2017
Characteristics: x, 357 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

By delving into vivid memories of her traumatic childhood, confessions of self-doubt in her journals, and heartbreaking letters to and from her mother, Tan gives evidence to all that made it both unlikely and inevitable that she would become a writer.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Nov 01, 2018

I had read many of Amy Tan's books and was going away for a few days and staying at a "book hotel" in the Amy Tan room. I was inspired to listen to her memoir on my drive down. I loved the book because I enjoyed getting to learn about Tan as a person, her struggles, triumphs and experiences in life that led her to write her novels. It was very enriching to learn about her rich, complex, tumultuous past. It was intriguing to learn about her relationship with her mother and how complicated it was, yet loving and how they were able to work out their issues. I also love reading immigrant stories and experiences and while Tan herself is not an immigrant her parents were. A great insight into the life of a beloved author.

Feb 15, 2018

Amy Tan's memoir "Where the past begins" is subtitled accurately as "A writer's memoir." Indeed the book shows Amy's life progressing from childhood to adulthood and her growth as a writer. Every aspiring writer will benefit from reading this memoir. All readers will find parts of themselves in this book. Tan relates her complex relationship with her mother who struggled with issues of her own. Tan struggles with the loss of a brother and father as does her mother and these human relationships are described poignantly.

Feb 13, 2018

I must be one of the few that has not read Amy Tan's other books. I read this as I wanted to know more about the author after hearing her interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air.
Tan peppers the book with examples of the processes she uses as an writer such as using music to inspire her in her writing. Much like a soundtrack. She also included memos/emails between herself and her agent/publishers. An interesting look into the business side of what she does.
This book is also very personal with much revealed about her childhood and her relationship with her mother who struggled with her past to the point of being suicidal at times as well as witnessing at a young age the deaths of her father and brother from brain tumors.

Nov 19, 2017

Amy Tan's memoir isn't about her life and how it led to her being a writer, but about how all the aspects of her life and the lives before her inspired her to write. This is a very fluid book as one chapter flows into the next, and how perception and understanding changes over time reveals that our lives are in flux. I don't want to make any interpretations into Tan's life, even though this is her memoir. But what I loved about this memoir was how much of her internal voice mirrored my own, and how she gave words to thoughts I hadn't constructed yet. I was engulfed in her memoir and it has now changed my own perceptions of my past as I continue to flow through my life.

Oct 26, 2017

This memoir showed me that writers struggle in life just like everyone else.

Check out my review of "Where the Past Begins: A Writer's Memoir" on my blog at:


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at SPL

To Top