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The Bonesetter's Daughter

by
3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  103,435 Ratings  ·  2,777 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
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ebook, 400 pages
Published February 19th 2001 by Putnam Adult
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(showing 1-30)
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Amelia
Nov 20, 2007 Amelia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Yulia
Sep 17, 2008 Yulia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rebbie
Jan 01, 2017 Rebbie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2017
Amy Tan's books are like a fine wine: they're meant to be savored, to get the maximum amount of enjoyment out of each drop (or word) on each page.

I have yet to read a book that's worthy of anything less than 5 stars. Knock on wood, let's hope it stays that way.

Ruth is a 46 year-old professional woman with a busy life of her own: she has a successful but demanding career, a live-in boyfriend with whom she has a complicated relationship, 2 step kids who are bratty (imho) for most of the book, and
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Irish
Apr 23, 2008 Irish rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Suzanne
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
Sandra
Jun 25, 2014 Sandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 - 4.5 stars.
Tan portrayed in a great way the cultural and language conflicts between migrant parents and their kids.
I also enjoyed the part of the book set in China from 1915 to 1950.
Holly
Apr 23, 2008 Holly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Luís C.
https://www.nytimes.com/books/01/02/1...

''The Bonesetter's Daughter'' is divided into three sections. The first, set in present-day California, introduces us to Ruth Young, a Chinese-American woman whose 10-year relationship with the man she loves is deteriorating for reasons she doesn't understand. When her mother shows signs of dementia, Ruth suddenly becomes aware of what her mother's memory loss means: the disappearance of stories that will help Ruth understand her family and give her the s
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Praj
Mar 21, 2010 Praj rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Margitte
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
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Daniel Clausen
Sep 30, 2016 Daniel Clausen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I almost gave up on this book early on. I'm glad I didn't. While I didn't really care for the character of Ruth too much or her life in San Fransisco, the story of her mother LuLing really saved the book and turned the entire novel into a deeply affecting work. The middle act where LuLing is allowed to tell her story in her own words was the obvious high point of the book for me.
Andrea
2007 Rating: 2 Stars

2016 Rating: I’m very happy this one got selected for book club as it had been many years since I’d read this. I remember my original frustration was that I was much more used to Amy Tan’s work which is primarily set in the past. This book starts in the present day and remains centered there, even as the past is explored. Sadly, this present-focus remains less engaging for me than other works by Tan. I don’t need to love or even like the protagonist, but I also don’t want to
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Holli
Jan 11, 2008 Holli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jun 02, 2012 Hildred Billings rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Connie
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
Katie
Jan 25, 2017 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books, 2017
I'm so glad I listened to this one, it made my heart happy. I have a weak spot for mother-daughter (and sisters) stories. I especially loved the parts about LuLing's childhood in China.
Katje
Aug 10, 2010 Katje rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alysia
Nov 06, 2012 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
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Kristie
Mar 17, 2015 Kristie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Amy Tan book I've read and it won't be the last. Loved it.
Marcela
2.5 STARS
This is my second book by Amy Tan after The Joy Luck Club. I thoroughly enjoyed reading TJLC, so I was really looking forward to reading this book. The Bonesetter's Daughter is told from two points of view: Ruth, a first-generation Chinese-American working in San Francisco as a ghost writer, and her mother LuLing growing up in China and how she moved to America.
I enjoyed reading the first part of the book and was quickly hooked with Ruth's story. However, it all went downhill when the
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Anne
3.5/5 STARS

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. I won't say I'm disappointed, but I'm definitely not entranced, or enamored of this. In some ways, both books are similar and yet in other ways they are separated by gapping differences. I'm glad I went into this without proper enlightenment of it's content, otherwise I would have been reluctant to read it.

The story is recounted in voices of a mother and da
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Donna
Oct 01, 2012 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
Shandy Potes mangra
Amy Tan has such a beautiful way of melding each character's account together so that they balance and complement each other. I enjoy reading her books because I feel that within her fiction their is so much knowledge and culture that gets imparted. I greatly advise reading the commentary at the close of this book because it allows the reader to better understand the nuisances of Amy Tan's storytelling.
Jill
Love, love, love Amy Tan. She's an amazing storyteller of generational differences, misunderstandings, and hidden pasts. While there are sad elements to the story, the book is not depressing at all. She gives an amazing view of Chinese culture and life in China's recent history.
Ms.pegasus
Nov 16, 2016 Ms.pegasus rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in China
The opening chapter heading of Amy Tan's novel is that most elusive of words, “Truth.” Truth is a shapeshifter. It's erased by lost memories and revised by memories edited and reedited over time. As LuLing's memory is beginning to recede, she writes her story in the precise graceful calligraphy she learned as a child. She adheres to the traditional characters. Her record is for her daughter Ruth, and the story is both her own and that of the woman she grew up knowing as Precious Auntie (Bao Bomu ...more
Allen Grace
Jul 26, 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
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Monique
Aug 01, 2009 Monique rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Carl R.
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
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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
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More about Amy Tan...

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“Writing what you wished was the most dangerous form of wishful thinking.” 1825 likes
“That was how dishonesty and betrayal started, not in big lies but in small secrets.” 179 likes
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