The Bonesetter's Daughter

The Bonesetter's Daughter

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The first time Amy Tan - The New York Times best-selling author of The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife, and The Hundred Secret Senses - learned her mother's real name as well as that of her grandmother was on the day she died. It happened as Tan and several sidblings - unified by a need to feel helpful instead of helpless - gathered to discuss their dying mother's past and prepare her obituary. Tan was stunned when she realized she had not known her own mother's birth name. It was just one of several surprises. In the act of writing a simple obituary Tan came to realize there was still so much she did not know about her. Soon afterwards she began rewriting the novel she had been working on for five years. Inspired by her own experiences with family secrets kept by one generation from the next, and drawn from a lifetime of questions and images, the result is The Bonesetters's Daughter.The story begins when Ruth Young, a ghostwriter of self-help books, comes across a clipped stack of papers in the bottom of a desk drawer. Young has been caring for her ailing mother, LuLing, who is beginning to show the unmistakable signs of Alzheimer's disease. Written in Chinese by LuLing years earlier, when she first started worrying something was wrong with her memory, the papers contain a narrative of LuLing's life as a girl in China, and the life of her own mother, the daughter of the Famous Bonesetter from the village of Xian Xin - Immortal Heart - near the Mouth of the Mountain. Within the calligraphed pages Ruth finds the truth about a mother's heart, what she cannot tell her daughter yet hopes her daughter will never forget. With her latest novel Amy Tan explores the changing place one has in a family of names that were nearly forgotten. Just as she herself has done, Tan shows Ruth finding the secrets and fragments of her mother's past - its heartfelt desires, its deepest wounds, its most profound hopes - and with each new discovery reconfiguring her assessment of the woman who shaped her life, who is in her bones. The extent to which Tan's newest novel mixes pure fiction with elements of autobiography is made clear by Tan herself. In acknowledgements of The Bonesetter's Daughter she writes, "The heart of this story belongs to my grandmother, its voice to my mother."
ISBN: 9780399146435
0399146431
9780399146855
0399146857
9780804114981
0804114986
Branch Call Number: FICTION TAN
813.54 T161
F TAN

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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.

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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.

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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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