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The Bonesetter's Daughter: A Novel…
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The Bonesetter's Daughter: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle) (original 2001; edition 2003)

by Amy Tan

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6,48895884 (3.75)138
Member:riveter
Title:The Bonesetter's Daughter: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
Authors:Amy Tan
Info:Ballantine Books (2003), Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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Work details

The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan (2001)

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    BookshelfMonstrosity: The Bonesetter's Daughter depicts a contemporary Chinese-American woman who learns about her immigrant mother's past, while Songs of Willow Frost portrays a Chinese-American actress during the Great Depression. Both atmospheric novels explore the social and economic marginalization of women.… (more)
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» See also 138 mentions

English (89)  Spanish (3)  Catalan (1)  French (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (95)
Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
Ruth Young and her Chinese immigrant mother have a difficult relationship. Now her mother, LuLing, is showing symptoms of Alzheimer's. As an only child, Ruth feels the burden of caring for her mother. Her partner, Art, and his sullen daughters take more from Ruth than they give. As LuLing's memories began to fade, she wrote down her important memories for her daughter. Ruth had to struggle to read traditional Chinese characters, so she had set aside her mother's story to read when she had more time. When Ruth realizes how much of her mother she's lost already, she hires a translator to discover her mother's story. The perspective shifts from third to first person, with LuLing telling her own story.

The audio version uses two narrators – one for Ruth's story and one for LuLing's. Because I've been disappointed before by authors narrating their own works, I try to make it a rule to avoid listening to them. I am glad I made an exception for this one. Tan proved to be as talented as many professional narrators. Since such a large part of the book is written in first person, it seems natural to hear someone speaking the story. The theme of finding one's voice also suits the audio format. Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote cbl_tn | Aug 25, 2018 |
I did the best I could, I even skimmed & jumped. I just did not like the characters, and for me that is the deal breaker

Art, Ruth's Anglo significant other, basically drops the responsibility of his two daughters & the care of "his" house on Ruth, including the payment of repairs.

Ruth's Chinese mother, twice-married LuLing Liu Young, is a controlling despot....

Ruth is the perfect victim/enabler... unwilling to stand up for herself

Ruth's friend Wendy, is a self-absorbed selfish person.

I abhorred the characters and therefore the story. ( )
  Auntie-Nanuuq | Aug 20, 2018 |
This is probably my favorite of Tan's novel's that I have read thus far. She sets the stage and really is able to give us wonderful insight into the characters of LuLing and Ruth, in doing so endears us to both them and the story that she paints for us. The Bonesetter's Daughter is a truly beautiful story about the complications and love that come with mother daughter relationships. With a satisfyingly mundane conclusion I was left feeling as though things were right where they should be. ( )
  rlgemperline89 | Jul 14, 2018 |
3.5 stars ( )
  mitabird | Jun 10, 2018 |
I wanted to reread The Joy Luck Club because we were talking about it in my book club and I remembered how well the movie adaptation and it had been a while since I had read the book. Go figure, I looked at my library and both the digital and physical copy were checked out. I'm actually still waiting on my digital copy, but while looking at The Joy Luck Club, Libby pulled up all of Amy Tan's work and here was this lovely.

I read the synopsis of a tumultuous relationship between mother and daughter and how once finding LuLing's story, Ruth's perception changes and I was intrigued. I love Amy Tan's attention to mother/daughter relationships and decided to give this one a read while waiting for my copy of The Joy Luck Club.

This story is heart-breaking and beautiful all at the same time. It teaches us the lesson of how we cannot truly empathize with someone or understand their actions without knowing their story. How, sometimes, our mothers or grandmothers seem cruel and don't understand our lives, but they are really trying their best to look out for us and give us the opportunities they weren't given.

LuLing's life was far from easy and it was painful to read her story at times. It was so wonderfully written to the point that I had to constantly remind myself that I wasn't reading a memoir or work of nonfiction, which is a testament to Tan's amazing storytelling skill.

I also loved the attention to culture. Just like in The Joy Luck Club, Tan focused on the differences in how LuLing was raised and how she in turn raised Ruth in America. Culture plays a significant role in why LuLing focused on things that Ruth never understood until she learned more about her mother's history.

And just like with real life, there wasn't a cut and dry happy ending. LuLing's past is no longer hidden, but she still forgets more and more each day. Ruth understands her mother better, but it was almost too late.

In the end, I wanted more and felt like I needed more closure for LuLing and Ruth. I'm sure it was left the way it was for a reason, but I just wanted to be sure LuLing would be okay. I need to know she's okay because I became invested in LuLing's past, present, and future. There was also a chunk in the middle of the novel where it lost me and the rhythm slowed a bit too much for my liking.

Other than that, it was a truly wonderful story to watch unfold. The past and the present were blended evenly to not be confusing but rather add to the overall story. Part of me wants this made into a movie and the other part of me would hate for such a beautiful tale to be ruined during an adaptation. ( )
  CJ82487 | Mar 20, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (37 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Amy Tanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Abelsen, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chen, JoanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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On the last day that my mother spent on earth, I learned her real name, as well at that of my grandmother. This book is dedicated to them. Li Bingzi and Gu Jingmei
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These are the things I know are true:
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Synopsis for the Dutch edition:
"Wat zou er nog meer in het binnenste van de leunstoel liggen? Ze tastte rond en vond een pakket van bruin inpakpapier, omwonden met een rood kerstlint. Er zat een stapel papier in, met Chinese tekst. Sommige vellen hadden bovenaan een zwierig gekalligrafeerd karakter. Dit had ze al eens eerder gezien. Maar waar?' Als Ruth het huis van haar moeder opruimt, vindt ze een manuscript onder de zitting van een oude stoel. Haar moeder heeft nooit iets losgelaten over haar Chinese verleden, over haar voorouders en over de reden van haar plotselinge vertrek naar Amerika. Maar nu blijkt Ruth het zorgvuldig opgetekende levensverhaal van haar moeder in handen te hebben. Al lezend leert ze haar eindelijk kennen."
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345457374, Paperback)

At the beginning of Amy Tan's fourth novel, two packets of papers written in Chinese calligraphy fall into the hands of Ruth Young. One bundle is titled Things I Know Are True and the other, Things I Must Not Forget. The author? That would be the protagonist's mother, LuLing, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. In these documents the elderly matriarch, born in China in 1916, has set down a record of her birth and family history, determined to keep the facts from vanishing as her mind deteriorates.

A San Francisco career woman who makes her living by ghostwriting self-help books, Ruth has little idea of her mother's past or true identity. What's more, their relationship has tended to be an angry one. Still, Ruth recognizes the onset of LuLing's decline--along with her own remorse over past rancor--and hires a translator to decipher the packets. She also resolves to "ask her mother to tell her about her life. For once, she would ask. She would listen. She would sit down and not be in a hurry or have anything else to do."

Framed at either end by Ruth's chapters, the central portion of The Bonesetter's Daughter takes place in China in the remote, mountainous region where anthropologists discovered Peking Man in the 1920s. Here superstition and tradition rule over a succession of tiny villages. And here LuLing grows up under the watchful eye of her hideously scarred nursemaid, Precious Auntie. As she makes clear, it's not an enviable setting:

I noticed the ripe stench of a pig pasture, the pockmarked land dug up by dragon-bone dream-seekers, the holes in the walls, the mud by the wells, the dustiness of the unpaved roads. I saw how all the women we passed, young and old, had the same bland face, sleepy eyes that were mirrors of their sleepy minds.
Nor is rural isolation the worst of it. LuLing's family, a clan of ink makers, believes itself cursed by its connection to a local doctor, who cooks up his potions and remedies from human bones. And indeed, a great deal of bad luck befalls the narrator and her sister GaoLing before they can finally engineer their escape from China. Along the way, familial squabbles erupt around every corner, particularly among mothers, daughters, and sisters. And as she did in her earlier The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan uses these conflicts to explore the intricate dynamic that exists between first-generation Americans and their immigrant elders. --Victoria Jenkins

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:54 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

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 headsrong 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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 13 descriptions

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