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The Bonesetter's Daughter

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  97,625 Ratings  ·  2,500 Reviews
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 cu
Paperback, 368 pages
Published February 4th 2003 by Ballantine Books (first published August 2001)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 24, 2008 Amelia rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Mom, Kristen, Celeste
Recommended to Amelia by: Diane and Susan
Amy Tan has a way of starting a story that's impossible to put down. For the first half of the book I kept wondering what about it made it so good. Anecdotal stories, relatable characters, Chinese folklore for interest ... these are all good, but I finally realized in the last quarter of the book why I liked it so much. Because it's a book about learning to love your past no matter how many scars it gives you, and learning to love and forgive your parents and ancestors, no matter what they may h ...more
Nov 07, 2008 Yulia rated it really liked it
This is a chronicle of voicelessness across three generations of a Chinese family: it captures how these women lost their voices, why they continued to be voiceless, and how they attempted to reclaim their voice. Voice in this book is both literal and figurative: it's about standing up for oneself, speaking one's truth, being acknowledged, being understood, and not being censored. And the perpetrators who claim the women's voices can be cultural, personal (through the violation of one's secrets ...more
Apr 23, 2008 Irish rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: very patient people who are tolerant of meh characters.
This was the first Amy Tan book I read. This book wasn't specifically recommended, but the author was. I was expecting something magical to happen as I turned the pages, but I couldn't get past the first four or five chapters of the book. Besides the overly long sections of actionless description (the story stagnated because of a poor balance between backstory, scene setup and description, and actual let's-move-things-along plot), the main character Ruth is so weak and whiny that I couldn't empa ...more
Apr 24, 2008 Holly rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Holly by: My Mother
Shelves: amy-tan
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 min ...more
I just didn't enjoy this as much as Amy Tan's other books. Her plot development, with its mother-daughter issues, has become almost a formula. She does do a credible job describing life in China in the last century and I came away with a deeper understanding of that culture. I just never thought of Amy Tan as the Maeve Binchy of Asian writing. This is not meant to be a criticism of Maeve Binchy, an author whose well-written books I think are fun to read. It just is I get the impression that she ...more
May 04, 2011 Praj rated it it was ok
Meaningless words are a mere group of letters. And if these words are weaved into a 350+ pages manuscript, the essential plot is misplaced between the evaporation of its characters. Tan exaggeratedly lengthens the stereotypical dilemma of two generations of women (mother- daughter) trying to find solace in a past laden with secrets and customs that mold cultural uprightness. Disappointing outcome to what might have been an admirable chronicle.
A great read! The mother-daughter relationships spanning over three generations was done so authentically it is hard to believe that Amy Tan was not there herself in each generation living those lives in all the different scenes/eras of the book.

"Things I must not forget" - is the first line of some Chinese writings which her mother handed to her and which she managed to translate.

Her mother, Luling, was in the early stages of Alzheimers, which forced Ruth (or Lootie as her mother pronounced he
Feb 02, 2008 Holli rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2008
Like most of Tan's books, this novel focuses on mother-daughter relationships extending over several generations. It is a tale of discovering the truth about our past and ourselves. Ruth's mother LuLing is suffering with the early stages of Alzheimer's and carefully writes down the "Things I Know Are True" and the "Things I Must Not Forget" - leaving them for her daughter to find. These are the vehicles through which Ruth discovers the secrets and truths hidden in her mother's past. This is a wo ...more
Like The Joy Luck Club, this book is about relationships between mothers and daughters, and the importance of knowing each other's life stories. In the first part of the book, we meet Ruth, a first generation Chinese-American working as a ghostwriter for New Age self-help books in California. She has a hard time asserting herself in her ten-year relationship with her boyfriend. Her mother, LuLing, has been recently diagnosed with dementia, and can no longer live alone. LuLing is depressed, criti ...more
Rebecca Huston
I really enjoyed this one, having wanted to read this one for years. Set in both pre-communist China and modern day California, telling the story of Ruth and her mother LuLing. It is not an easy relationship at all. LuLing is quarrelsome, manipulative, and has made Ruth's life hell for many years. Ruth tries to be understanding, but her mother is driving her crazy and when the doctors say that LuLing is sliding into dementia, Ruth's life turns upside down and leaving her to pick up the pieces. S ...more
Hildred Billings
Dec 23, 2012 Hildred Billings rated it really liked it
"The Bonesetter's Daughter" is the second to last Amy Tan novel I have yet to re-read, and like "Hundred Secret Senses," I realized I couldn't remember a dang thing about this book. "The Joy Luck Club" is all about switching POVs between eight characters, "The Kitchen God's Wife" is basically a super long version of one Joy Luck story (that is of course morbidly depressing half the time), and "Saving Fish From Drowning" is about a ghost following around and narrating about the lulziest tour grou ...more
Luís Blue Yorkie
This novel shows the relationship between mother and daughter who grew up in different cultures. From a old diary, written by Luling Young in childhood and youth in China on the 20's, Ruth Young discovers the circumstances that shaped the personality of the mother and the truth about their origins. To weave the story of the two, Amy Tan took the main source of inspiration to his relationship with his mother, now deceased.
Mar 22, 2015 Alysia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my third Amy Tan book. I have not read a novel from her in years and this book helped me to remember why she is one of my favorite authors. Amy Tan has a timeless writing style. That is the only way I can describe it. She doesn't write overly poetic or too simple. Amy Tan writes with a unique style that is perfect in every way. Her Chinese voice and American Chinese voice interchange with ease.
This book addresses mother-daughter relations and the complexes feelings involved. Ruthie is th
Aug 10, 2010 Katje rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 30, 2014 Donna rated it really liked it
Shelves: cultural

3.5 stars
I have always liked Amy Tan's novels. A common theme for her is tension in the mother-daughter relationship. I don't mean this in a volatile way. Her stories are usually stretched around love and understanding, and then forgiveness. In this novel, it seemed that with the strict Asian culture and then with the Americanized child, there seems to be a rift that needs to be bridged. And the author does that beautifully.

Her stories aren't fast paced, but, for me, they do evoke feelings of co
Anne (Anneshka)
Honestly, this book was not what I expected. Going into it i had my hopes set along the lines of a tale like: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.
In some ways, both books are similar and yet in other ways they are separated by gapping differences. I will say I'm glad I went into this without proper enlightenment of it's content, otherwise I would have been reluctant to read it.

Now to the highlights (the whole freaking story):
This story is recounted in voices of a mother and daughter who are American citizens, but of Chinese dec
Nov 19, 2015 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Amy Tan has an amazing talent for telling stories over time, through generations. She's able to capture the life of a modern woman and the life of that woman's grandmother and make them equally believable. And she is able to do it within the pages of a medium-length novel, not near the length of most historical fiction. Her characters are individuals but also representative of their times.

Reading the Bonesetter's Daughter is to be completely immersed, unapologetically, in the world of women. He
Oct 25, 2015 Stacey rated it really liked it
This is the first Amy Tan book that I have read and I loved it. Her writing is something to be savored and I will be reading more of her books in the future. I laughed out loud and I cried too.

Poor Ruth, her struggles with her aging mother, I could relate for sure. As LuLing was from China, my mother is from France; although they are from different countries, having a mother from another country has some of the same similarities and struggles. That faint embarrassment of your mother being differ
Rachel Crooks
Jul 13, 2010 Rachel Crooks rated it really liked it
I finally decided to look for The Joy Luck Club at the library – and found The Bonesetter’s Daughter instead. In a way, this book was a similar experience to it – I went into it expecting to find one thing and found another.

What I think is expert on Amy Tan’s part is the way she unveils her characters over the course of the book: to begin with, LuLing is the silly, pushy, morose, slightly embarrassing Alzheimer’s-suffering mother of Ruth. Her identity, for being what I thought a stereotypical ve
Jan 07, 2015 Monique rated it really liked it
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Amy Tan has a gift of writing about the mother and daughter experience. One that transcends race or culture. The Bonesetter's Daughter is about the experience of a daughter coming to terms with her mother's illness and past. Just like the characters in The Joy Luck Club Ruth and her mother LuLing have a difficult relationship. Mostly do to the fact that the mother grow up in China and her daughter was raised in America. It is also a story of a daughter learning to appreciate her
Aug 02, 2011 Dee rated it it was amazing
Amy Tan is such an awesome author. She really pulls you in to her stories. I have handed this book to my mother, who thinks she is "loosing it" and wanted her to know what a woman loosing it really experiences. But in this story, the mother seems to tell more truths, that have never been uttered, as he mind starts to go. At first, as Ruth's mother tells the doctor that she is older than Ruth knows her to be, Ruth chalks it all up to her mother's mind going. Then she tells everyone that the woman ...more
This is a great book about the mother-daughter relationship and what lurks around its periphery, haunting it. From a critical point of view, I enjoyed the structure which dips between the first narrator Ruth and her mother Lu Ling who becomes the second narrator. Its a story about generations of women who are all disempowered, sometimes in similar ways.

Here's a para as a taster of the beauty of Amy Tan's writing:
"As he said this, Precious Auntie came back into my mind. I was remembering how sh
Allen Grace
Aug 30, 2013 Allen Grace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2013-reads, asian-lit
You should think
about your character.
Know where you are changing,
how you will be changed,
what cannot be changed back again...

Ahh, words to live by.

Allow me to tease you in saying how awesome this book is, how these words can offer you comfort and at the same time pull you in to an estranged place you have never been to, a place that has a different culture where people speak in fragments, a new language you're not familiar with.

The Bonesetter's Daughter is my very first Amy Tan read and defi
Jan 21, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it
I read "The Joy Luck Club" when it was popular 5 or 6 years ago. It was good, but didn't cause me to deliberately seek out Tan's other books. A year or so ago, my oldest daughter left a copy of "The Bonesetter's Daughter" on our coffee table. The few times she's been at home since then, she always asked if I'd read it yet. Well, I finally did. To my amazement, I was completely sucked in to the portion of the story involving the grandmother and mother when they lived in "old" China, pre-WWII, mor ...more
Carl R.
May 07, 2012 Carl R. rated it liked it
I sort of skipped The Bonesetter’s Daughter when it came out a few years ago despite the fact that I’ve met Tan and her husband and hiked a Sierra trail with them and their two Yorkies (I wasn't alone with them, of course. There were a number of others along, it being a writers’ workshop event.) You might think these would be inducements to run out and get everything that fell from her pen. However, she had this kids’ TV series about cats, and The Joy Luck Club (movie and book) didn’t enthrall ...more
Titin Susanti
Aug 09, 2007 Titin Susanti rated it liked it
usually I like reading books with historical background, but this book is not that enjoyable to me.
Amy Tan is famous for her writing of the mixture of Chinese and America culture.
I always love culture, so I decided to read this book.
I usually skim the book first.
Unfortunately, the first and second chapter is not that interesting.
I have to admit that my imagination was not run wild.
The latter chapters were better.

Funny things happened after I read this book.
:) I could't sleep hahahaha :)
I kept th
Dec 30, 2012 Hannah rated it liked it
I found the first section of the book which introduces the reader to the protagonist, Ruth, quite difficult to pursue, she wasn't immediately likeable to me and I didn't find these chapters fleshed out very much. Ruth's idiosyncrasies, such as her listing her to-do tasks on her hands, I just didn't find functional to the character's development or seem that believable in fact. Maybe I am missing some symbolism in this?

The middle section of the book I really liked and the historical context very
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
Amy Tan has a way of getting inside mother daughter relationships that is startling. All of her novels explore the bond at both its best and worst. Part of what makes her stories so interesting is the clash of culture and of generational change which is so different to my own. The Bonesetters Daughter is probably the darkest of her novels, despite the (too) neat ending. The stories of the women are fascinating, though I had a hard time liking Ruth much which is probably unfair, I know all too we ...more
Jul 24, 2008 Dalene rated it really liked it
I loved that I started reading this--with its interesting metaphor of fire and water coming together to make steam--while on vacation to West Yellowstone, in particular on the day we visited the geysers.

Amy Tan's mother-daughter conflicts speak to me in ways that don't need explaining. This episode did not disappoint. My only regret (is it experience or simply jealousy?) is that everything wrapped up so happily at the end in such a perfectly tied bow. I'm not so good at tying bows and not so hop
Shiv Singh
Apr 18, 2014 Shiv Singh rated it really liked it
The first Amy Tan book I've read, and while it isn't exactly light reading, she has a beautiful way of writing. It's one book that'll keep you turning pages despite the late hour and early work schedule the next day.
Written across three generations of women, it brings out the cultural differences (in China at least) yet shows us that it doesn't take much to understand what a person felt. Because effectually, all feelings are human.
But the way the story meanders, it really makes you question how
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Amy Tan (Chinese: 譚恩美; pinyin: Tán Ēnměi; born February 19, 1952) is an American writer whose works explore mother-daughter relationships and what it means to grow up as a first generation Asian American. In 1993, Tan's adaptation of her most popular fiction work, The Joy Luck Club, became a commercially successful film.

She has written several other books, including The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hun
More about Amy Tan...

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“Writing what you wished was the most dangerous form of wishful thinking.” 1579 likes
“That was how dishonesty and betrayal started, not in big lies but in small secrets.” 167 likes
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