Ryan's Reviews > The Bonesetter's Daughter

The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan
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's review
Nov 06, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: fic-historical, fic-literary
Read in June, 2008


Not the sort of novel I'd normally pick up, but I got a cheap copy at a yard sale, and -- surprise -- I enjoyed it. Tan's portrait of a challenging relationship between a daughter and a stubborn mother in the early stages of dementia is authentic and touchingly written. My willful Irish-American grandmother had Alzheimer's, and these scenes struck familiar chords. The story becomes even more involving when it travels back into the colorful past, through the mother's writings, to her life as a girl and young woman in China, where she struggles with her own real and surrogate families and endures tragedy and war. Through these memoirs, the daughter learns that her mother had kept back a few important secrets, and struggles to bring them forth from her as her mind erases itself.

The overall setup is a little contrived, though, and, outside the central relationship of the novel, the parts of the story set in modern San Francisco are formulaic. The ending is a little too neat, as well. Yet, I found the mother-daughter story and the China story absorbing.

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