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The Hundred Secret Senses

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3.99  ·  Rating details ·  40,230 ratings  ·  1,721 reviews
The Hundred Secret Senses is an exultant novel about China and America, love and loyalty, the identities we invent and the true selves we discover along the way. Olivia Laguni is half-Chinese, but typically American in her uneasiness with her patchwork family. And no one in Olivia's family is more embarrassing to her than her half-sister, Kwan Li. For Kwan speaks mangled E ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 406 pages
Published December 1st 1996 by Ivy Books (first published 1995)
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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 ·  40,230 ratings  ·  1,721 reviews


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April
Nov 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The Hundred Secret Senses is now one of my favorite Amy Tan novels, rivaled only by The Bonesetter's Daughter. Yes, I love The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife and Saving Fish From Drowning - I love any Tan story I come across - but The Hundred Secret Senses (along with TBD) really stand out.

Olivia, the narrator, is the American-born daughter of a Chinese man and an American woman. When her father is on his deathbed, he reveals to his wife that he left behind a daughter in China, and asks
...more
Xavier Guillaume
Mar 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Amy Tan, Those interested in Chinese ghost stories
Shelves: audio-book
Let me start off by saying that I LOVE Kwan! Her voice and self-assurance makes her cool, "Oh Libby-ah! I tell you secret. Promise not tell?" And then later in the book she becomes even cooler! A fifty year old lady crawling through caves. I can picture her saying, "We hakka strong! Don't worry me Libby-ah. I be right back!" :) I think a movie would be great! It has suspense, mystery, romance, death, ghosts! Not to mention the amazing visuals detailed in the story.

My only criticism is that Olivi
...more
Margitte
Pablo Picasso also had his periods: African, Blue, Cubism, Modern, Rose and Analytic cubism.
And so have I. Have periods: Russian, Jewish, American, Middle-East, African, you name it.

One of my favorites is Amy Tan. Amy Tan-Period. This one is lasting a few years now and most of her books have a central theme: mothers and daughters. Amy Tan did not have a good relationship with her mother, or grandmother, for that matter. It could have been different if she had children of her own to really unders
...more
Silvanna
Jun 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I would have given this five stars but for a few things that annoyed me. Simon's sterility didn't ring true and Kwan's constant good humor was a bit grating.
Otherwise very, very entertaining!
James
Apr 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes good, deep characters and interesting stories.
It's become a tradition for me to read Amy Tan's books when flying. My recent trip to Las Vegas was no exception, since at the last minute, I pulled down Amy Tan's The Hundred Secret Senses - the Kindle version - and dived into it as soon as I could turn my electronic devices back on.

The book starts, "My sister Kwan believes she has yin eyes. She sees those who have died and now dwell in the World of Yin, ghosts who leave the mists just to visit her kitchen on Balboa Street in San Francisco."

The
...more
Rebbie
Apr 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2015
I read The Joy Luck Club years ago (after watching the movie), and now I’m kicking myself that I’ve let years and years pass before picking up her other novels. I could’ve been treasuring these books all along, but maybe this is a blessing in disguise, because Amy Tan’s novels require a certain type of womanly maturity to fully appreciate her stories that can only come with age and experience. In fact, I think I should re-read TJLC because there are probably lots of subtle things that went right ...more
Anna Engel
Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
It's the same basic Amy Tan plot. The details have changed, but the essence of the story is exactly the same as every other Tan book I've read. In this case, though, not only does the narrator have mommy issues, she also has older-sister-from-China issues.

Basically, I got bored. I've read most of Tan's novels and have realized that she has a template. She found a formula that worked in The Joy Luck Club and hasn't really changed it since then.

1. Female main character.
2. She's caught between two
...more
C.
Aug 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
We all hear of Amy Tan with great respect but I was unsure "The Joy Luck Club" was for me. A fan of mystique, "The Hundred Secret Senses" was a title that drew me. I expected Amy’s work to be very good ~ she plays keyboard in a band with other big league authors like Stephen King, for Pete’s sake. The journey I discovered is so epic and multifaceted, I doubt a blockbuster film could do it justice but I would love to see it. The numerous storylines are dynamic and all unforgettable.

Olivia’s Dad h
...more
Karen Germain
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
I'm a huge fan of Amy Tan and I have read all, but her most recent novel. Tan's third novel, The Hundred Secret Senses, follows two sisters as they try to overcome culture gaps to form a bond.

The narrator is Olivia, a photographer who sets up the story through flashbacks to her childhood. On Olivia's father's death bed, he tells his family that he has fathered a child who is living in a remote village in China and he wishes for his daughter to be brought to America. When Olivia is six, her adul
...more
☮Karen
Oct 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: cindy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Spider the Doof Warrior
May 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
So I like this book. What I like about it is how sweet Kwan is, but in just about All the Books there is a straight as in serious character who refuses to believe in ghosty things.

Which is a bit irritating when you have proof such things exist.

Best thing about this book is the concept that these people cared for each other so much they kept being born again just to be with these folks. it's a nice way to look at death, really. Friendly. You loved this guy in this life so he's going to be reborn
...more
Yun Zhen
Dec 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asian-stories
Lovely story :) Not as mindblowing as The Bonesetter's Daughter, but good enough for me to stay up into the wee hours just to finish devouring this book.

The story started out slow and took longer than I liked to reach the climax and there are still a few unanswered questions that I would have preferred answered, like what was Olivia's father's real name. But I guess in the big scheme of things, these little questions are inconsequential and would have distracted from the main plot.

What won me
...more
Natasa
The book constantly went from the present to the past. Because of a complicated plot, it was difficult for me to keep track of the characters.
Sana Krasikov
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In high school I had a friend with exquisite indie musical taste who was a closeted Cheryl Crow fan. Another friend confronted him and he had to come clean. Amy Tan is kind of my Cheryl Crow. Her accessibility might blind some highbrow readers to the great wit and wisdom in her writing. And I love how she moves narratively between the physical and spiritual worlds as if the line between the two is irrelevant.
Kaytee Cobb
20 years later, I finally re-read this gem. I honestly remembered nothing, but I found the story deep and enchanting. The characters, Olivia and Kwan, are interested and flawed and wonderful. This is not plot driven by any means, but it is beautifully done.
Ilona
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amy Tan's novels are really special in many ways. For me reading "Joy luck club" was a comfortable means of sinking in Chinese culture, bound with familiar American environment, something to hold to, like bungee jumping, you sunk into unknown depth but still know that the rope will return you back in proper time.

"The Hundred Secret Senses" seemed to me less americanized than the first Tan's novel. Every single step of characters here seems to be linked to Chinese legends, beliefs and tradit
...more
Javier
Jan 04, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Regina Ibrahim
Jan 21, 2018 rated it liked it
of course i remember reading it long time ago in my late twenties. Refreshing plot and interesting way of depicting cross culture of China and the new generation. The sister with Yin eyes is very convincingly written.
Amy's style in all of her books i strongly believed has injected inspirations to many when writing about anything with Chinese in mind. Those dos and don;ts...worth reading!!!
Denisa Arsene
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
It was a beautiful surprize for me this book. I think it's the first book of the author I've ever read. The thread following the story in the past with twists in the present, the karma (even though the word didn't come in the story), the way of how our souls could remember things from our past lives, the wonder of these ideas make from this one a very interesting reading.
I recommend with all my heart this amaizing book.
Hildred Billings
Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I'm reading all of Amy Tan's works again, I realized, upon reading all their summaries, that "The Hundred Secret Senses" was the only book I couldn't remember anything about. (I read all the books around the same time before, so it wasn't like a loooon time ago.) Probably because Senses is not about Amy's classic mother/daughter dynamic, but a sister/sister relationship.

The story is about a 40ish woman named Olivia, who has put up with her elder half-sister Kwan's nosiness and...her incredib
...more
Shannon
Apr 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed what Kwan has to teach us (and Olivia). Amy Tan has written an intersting book about two half-sisters whose experiences are very different from each other. Kwan with her Yin eyes is a great character who is a wonderful vehicle to take us into Chinese folklore and history.
Robyn
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
Having been a little disappointed by my only other foray into Amy Tan territory - an audiobook of The Bonesetter's Daughter, listened to whilst living in China - I began reading The Hundred Secret Senses with some trepidation, but ultimately an open mind. My boss had lent me her unread copy of the book, asking me to give her my opinion, and I hoped that I would thoroughly enjoy it and hand it back with my blessings and encouragement to get stuck in as soon as possible. I intended to finish The H ...more
Saige
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love Amy Tan's work, and this book was no exception. The magical realism aspect to this book was unexpected, but I enjoyed how Kwan's story of her past life played into the events happening to Olivia in the modern day. I didn't like Kwan in the beginning, but the chapters from her perspective were always interesting and I totally came around to liking her in the middle of the book. But OMG, Olivia had me so frustrated. She kept saying how calm and collected she was compared to her sister, but ...more
Maddie
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-harder-2018
Another wonderful Amy Tan novel. She does a great job weaving together characters from different generations or ages and their cultural experiences. I really liked in this one how she reaches back into time to the Taiping Rebellion to draw connections to her modern day characters.
Priya
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites_2017
Beautifully profound and amazing, soulful writing. I cannot vocalize my thoughts on this without giving away spoilers. But oh, talk about reading something at the right time! This is a dedication to sisterhood, to friendships, to loyalty, to love of all varieties. I would be raving about this wonderful book for a long time to come!
Claire - The Coffeeholic Bookworm
Her father dropped the bomb before he died. He admitted that he had another daughter from China and requested to bring her to America. Olivia was dumbfounded when she met learned that her half sister, Kwan, was kind of weird. Kwan was older than her but Olivia felt like she was going to be the bigger sister in the family. Sharing a room with her proved to be quite an ordeal. How would you feel when your sister told you that she'd been seeing ghosts and had the ability to talk with the spirits. S ...more
Diana C. Nearhos
Jan 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Olivia just wants to live her life as a mostly-American Chinese-American, so she's always resented her half-sister who won't let go of China. Kwan sees yin (ghosts) and is always interfering.
While we learn about their dynamic, Kwan tells us the story of her past life in rural China in 1862.
To be honest, for three-quarters of this book, I found it kinda interesting but not great. I wasn't sure I'd read the other two Tan books on my shelf, because with 200 unread books, you have to trim somewhere.
...more
Christine
Aug 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: other
What an odd book. This is one of those I never would have picked up had it not been for my book club, and another one of those reasons I'm glad I'm in a book club, and that I use it to help me read outside of my comfort zone. I'm still not entirely sure what this book was about, nor what I'm supposed to believe about it, but it was very human and intense. There was something, underneath all the talk of ghosts and past lives, very believable about this story...like something you know is there eve ...more
Brenda
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
I really liked The Joy Luck Club but I really could not stay focused on this book-it seemed repetitive and the characters were woefully dull. Perhaps its poor timing for this work of fiction-I am on a bit of a non-fiction kick and this book proved to be a sleep remedy for me. Maybe I should have given it more of a chance but I stopped reading it after about 80 pages; which I once would have never dreamed of doing or admitted to doing 10 years ago. But, alas, why should I struggle through a book ...more
Lori
Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is a huge favorite of mine. I've read it a couple of times and I don't re-read books very often! I just loved Kwan. Amy Tan's dialogue for her is so rich and real, I could hear Kwan's voice in my head!

The whole past-life/reincarnation storyline was fascinating. When I started to put it all together it was a HOLY SHIT moment - then I couldn't put the book down. Just as good, in a different way, as Joy Luck Club.

I would LOVE this to be a movie, but Amy Tan's book-to-movie record has been
...more
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8,228 followers
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

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