The Bonesetter's Daughter

The Bonesetter's Daughter

Book - 2003
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""As compelling as Tan's first bestseller, The Joy Luck Club. . . No one writes about mothers and daughters with more empathy than Amy Tan."
-The Philadelphia Inquirer

"[An] absorbing tale of the mother-daughter bond . . . this book sing[s] with emotion and insight."
-People


Ruth Young and her widowed mother, LuLing, have always had a tumultuous relationship. Now, before she succumbs to forgetfulness, LuLing gives Ruth some of her writings, which reveal a side of LuLing that Ruth has never known. . . .

In a remote mountain village where ghosts and tradition rule, LuLing grows up in the care of her mute Precious Auntie as the family endures a curse laid upon a relative known as the bonesetter. When headstrong LuLing rejects the marriage proposal of the coffinmaker, a shocking series of events are set in motion-all of which lead back to Ruth and LuLing in modern San Francisco. The truth that Ruth learns from her mother's past will forever change her perception of family, love, and forgiveness.


"A strong novel, filled with idiosyncratic, sympathetic characters; haunting images; historical complexity; significant contemporary themes; and suspenseful mystery."
-Los Angeles Times

"For Tan, the true keeper of memory is language, and so the novel is layered with stories that have been written down-by mothers for their daughters, passing along secrets that cannot be said out loud but must not be forgotten."
-The New York Times Book Review

"Tan at her best . . . rich and hauntingly forlorn . . . The writing is so exacting and unique in its detail."
-San Francisco Chronicle
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, 2003, c2001
Edition: 1st Ballantine Trade Books ed
ISBN: 9780345457370
0345457374
Branch Call Number: TAN A
Characteristics: 368 p. ; 21 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Ruth Young lives in San Francisco with her longtime partner and his teen-age daughters. Her father died when she was an infant, leaving her mother, Chinese-born LuLing, to raise her. Now LuLing has senile dementia, and Ruth urgently wants to find out the real story of her mother's upbringing.
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Andrew Kyle Bacon
Feb 05, 2018

This book falls short of being a great novel for an ironic reason. The main character, Ruth, is an editor: she assist authors in tightening their work and putting it to the paper not as they wrote it, but as they imagined it. Part of me suspects this novel needed its main character's expertise. In no way is the novel bad, or even greatly flawed, it simply goes on a bit too long. With some slight tightening, this novel could be quick and impactful. The pay off in the final chapters of the novel, while satisfying, are somewhat undone by the novel's length.

Structurally, this book is interesting and fun, being broken into three parts. Parts 1 and 3 concern Ruth, dealing with her mother suffering from Alzheimer's, and part 2 details her mother's life as a child in China. While all three of these are interesting and weave together in very interesting ways, the length hurts the pacing, making it difficult to get through at times.

I feel that I am in no way the intended audience for this book (I am a 26 year old dude), I still enjoyed this novel thoroughly, despite what I feel are issues with pacing and length. I had always wanted to read an Amy Tan novel for some reason, and I'm glad that I finally have. I'll certainly read more of her work in the future.

o
OllPuff9
Jul 25, 2017

I found this book far better than "The Joy Luck Club" which I have to admit I could not finish. I have seen parts of the movie (JLC) and thought I would like the book, especially since I liked this one so much. I couldn't put this book down; Joy Luck Club I returned only 1/3 read.

e
Eil_1
Jul 25, 2016

A timeless and beautiful recounting of Ruth's life with her mother - an immigrant from China following WWII; the discovery of handwritten account of her mother's life in China that reveals the identity of Ruth's Grandmother - "Precious Auntie". Highly recommended.

ehbooklover Apr 13, 2015

An exploration of the relationship between mothers and daughters, told effectively via different generations of the same family. Realistic characters, interesting descriptions of Chinese culture and traditions, plus an engaging story made for a great read.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 22, 2014

Amy Tan excels in the exploration of relationships between immigrant parents and American born children, and especially so in this novel of the discovery of a mother’s handwritten account of her life in China. Over the course of a year, mother and daughter finally discover what they share in their bones.

s
swz2000
Nov 08, 2013

A very touching story. I like Amy Tan's books.

m
marmoore
Aug 21, 2012

Amy Tan always tells a good story.

a
arleenwilliams
Aug 03, 2012

A rich rewarding read.

p
Pepperbot
Apr 09, 2012

I loved this book! Mundane occurances become interesting and funny when Tan writes about them, and those difficult aspects of relationships are portrayed so perfectly. And that's not all - the story was really interesting, being told through a few generations. A beautiful book overall. Lovely.

k
kawichick
Nov 25, 2010

Novel picks up in the second third of the book however falls flat in plot and character development.

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Lauren May 07, 2008

Ruth, a Chinese-American woman in San Francisco, worries that her elderly mother LuLing is beginning to suffer from dementia. Years earlier, when LuLing realized her memory was starting to disappear, she wrote down her life story for her daughter, in Chinese. Ruth finds these documents and has them translated, learning the truth about her mother's life in China and the effect it has had on her own life.

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