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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely interesting and well written!
Ruth, a ghostwriter for women's self help books, lives with her boyfriend Art and his two daughters in San Francisco. She becomes increasingly concerned about her mother's dementia. Ruth finds it hard to tell what is real and not real in her mother's mind until she comes across a diary recording her mother's past. Ruth discovers that her mother LuLing is from the town...
Published on July 18 2004 by M. T. Guzman

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3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful section on China in early 1900s
I admit that I had some difficulty getting into this book. Part of my struggle has to do with the fact that my own mother is in a nursing home suffering from senile dementia. Reading the first section of Ms. Tan's book was like reliving the process of accepting my mother's deteriorating condition, and then making difficult decisions on my mother's behalf. In this first...
Published on July 31 2003 by Joan Martorelli


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely interesting and well written!, July 18 2004
By 
M. T. Guzman "squeakychu" (Rockville, MD, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bonesetter's Daughter (Mass Market Paperback)
Ruth, a ghostwriter for women's self help books, lives with her boyfriend Art and his two daughters in San Francisco. She becomes increasingly concerned about her mother's dementia. Ruth finds it hard to tell what is real and not real in her mother's mind until she comes across a diary recording her mother's past. Ruth discovers that her mother LuLing is from the town of Immortal Heart in China. There her family was well known, not only for their ink business, but for her father's being a famous "Bonesetter" who treated his patients with "modern, try-anything, and traditional" medicine. Crucial to his practice of traditional medicine were dragon bones gathered by LuLing's family from the Monkey's Jaw, a secret place in a cave in the deepest ravines of a dry riverbed. LuLing's most beloved nursemaid, Precious Auntie, taught her the secret of unearthing these dragon bones.
This beautiful story, like other Amy Tan novels, dwells on women's relationships. As the novel opens, we explore Ruth's feelings of frutration as a daughter trying to deal with an independent, yet increasingly demented mother. We also see her trying to be a mother to her boyfriend's two young daughters. As we read the diary of LuLing, we see how hidden family secrets twist women's relationships into never-anticipated situations.
This work is so beautiful because it deals with real emotions, different for each individual, in two different cultures, settings, and times. It helps the reader imagine what it would be like to be in any of those sitations by showing one family's experiences within that realm of existence.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good one..., April 18 2005
By 
N. Jeannotte "nikkij73" (Victoria, British Columbia Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bonesetter's Daughter (Mass Market Paperback)
Amy Tan is always able to weave and interesting story that encapsulates both past and present day. The mother and daughter stories are something most women can probably relate to on some level. An interesting read and once I got past the first little bit, the story flowed very well. It gives the reader such an insight into historic China.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Bonesetter's Daughter, April 4 2004
This review is from: The Bonesetter's Daughter (Mass Market Paperback)
Amy Tan is at the top of her form with The Bonesetter's Daughter, and no other author does justice to the intricacies of the mother/daughter relationship like Tan. She is the master at taking details of Chinese culture and presenting them in a universal way that all mothers and all daughters can recognize.
The Bonesetter's Daughter takes place alternately in present day San Francisco and in 1920s China, where Luling struggles through a life cluttered with bad luck. With her Americanized daughter, Ruth, in northern California, Luling still feels stifled and afraid by the bad luck she is certain plagues them. Even as an adult, Ruth feels the weight of her mother's worries and guilt-ridden lessons. When Ruth learns that Luling has Alzheimer's disease, she realizes that she must come to terms with her feelings for and about her mother. But first she must learn the truth about her mother's earlier life in China.
This is a heartrending novel for mothers of daughters or daughters of mothers. How many of us have had to learn that when our mothers are criticizing us they are really loving us? How many of us have yearned to know the truth of our mothers' past, who they were before we were in the world? There are many universal truths displayed throughout Tan's fiction. Her novels show that though daughters do not wish to repeat the patterns set by their mothers, they are almost certainly destined to, that is, unless they make the conscious decision to release the pain and longing. As daughters we inherit our mother's weaknesses, but as adults we can reappropriate weakness into strength.
A longtime fan of Tan's, I was thrilled reading The Bonesetter's Daughter and could not put it down. Universal, honest, achingly true, Tan's straightforward prose speaks to the strengths and the weaknesses of the timeless bond between mothers and daughters.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I'm beginning to sense a pattern here., Dec 28 2003
By 
Kristin Lewis (Madison, WI United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bonesetter's Daughter (Mass Market Paperback)
I read the Joy Luck Club as my first exposure to Amy Tan's writing. I thoroughly enjoyed it then, but after reading this, I'm beginning to see a pattern in Tan's writing.
You have a Chinese-American daughter who doesn't understand or appreciate her mother's odd superstitions and customs. As the mother ages though, the daughter eventually learns her mother's whole story, and learns to appreciate where her mother is coming from. The daughter discovers that her mother is a remarkable woman and deserves her respect. With her newfound respect for her mother, their relationship grows stronger, and you have a sentimental ending.
That said, while Tan seems to cash in on same themes in her writing, I still think it works. The story contained in The Bonesetter's Daughter is engaging, worthwhile, and tragic. This book held my interest well and as such allowed me to finish it in less than a week. This book is well constructed - with LuLing's (the mother's) story contained between two sections involving her younger daughter Ruth.
While Ruth and her live-in boyfriend (with his two daughters) struggle to stay connected, Ruth has to deal with a mother who is increasingly unable to live by herself and manage her own affairs. Ruth is wearing out as her mother, her boyfriend, and her work all demand her attention. She moves in to take care of her mother and in their old house is faced with her childhood memories. One night she discovers many pages of chinese calligraphy her mother had written years ago. Unable to fluently read her mother's story, she hires a translator to reveal her mother's secrets. The translated story reveals the truth about LuLing's upbringing and ancestry in rural China, her adventures in love, and her struggle to escape during World War II. When Ruth finally learns all of this, her life seems to fall back into place, but I'll leave the details for you to read the book yourself.
I think this book is a worthwhile read for a Christmas break - a good escape from reality for a brief time, and who knows - maybe you can learn something about your own family relationships.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another lovely book of mothers, daughters, and the past, Sept. 5 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Bonesetter's Daughter (Mass Market Paperback)
I've read all of Amy Tan's novels and I thought this was the best of all. Her books are strangely similar, with the Chinese mother, the Chinese-American (first generation) daughter, the San Francisco Bay Area settings, the complex relationship between the mother and daughter and the influence of the past (and sometimes past lives). It works, though - it's what I keep coming back for. It works because it almost seems like the same mother and daughter are being shown in different lives (her books often have such spiritual, mystical aspects that include past lives).
This book seemed the most touching, with some of the loveliest passages. Reading it, I got tears in my eyes several times. There was also some really good dark humor, such as when Ruth (the daughter) recalls trying to kill herself in various ways at the age of eleven when she thinks she's pregnant (while never having been with a man). It's wonderful how as an adult she learns about her mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer's. In learning her mother's story, she learns her own. Tan's books are wonderful even if you don't have an Asian background (you basically just need to have a mother). I always wished I could mention to this author that my own mother is from Hungary, and she is extremely similar to the Chinese mothers she writes about, and my relationship with her (because I'm a first generation American too) is similar. There isn't this spiritual, mystical, ghost and past life influence in Hungarian culture, but there is definitely the constant criticism from Mom, the high expectations, the complex relationship, the misunderstandings, the anger, the resentments - everything she writes about. Tan writes for all mothers and daughters. As many times as she writes these types of characters and this type of setting, I'll be there.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Aahhh..., Aug. 13 2003
By 
Kathryn Papa (Queens Village, NY United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bonesetter's Daughter (Mass Market Paperback)
All I can say about Amy Tan is that she is the most amazing author of our time. She completely captivates the audience with an impeccable ability. Tan makes you fall into her stories as if you were experiencing it yourself. The Bonesetter's Daughter didn't have the same heartwrenching tragedy as some of her other books but it certainly captures your heart. I think Ms. Tan lived a past life or at the very least, experiences the ghost visitations she so often writes about. Ruth, the main character, is so similar to the average woman. Her troubles with relationships from a previous marriage, her worries about an aging mother, trying to keep her love alive and the constant critism of herself. Who doesn't have one or all of these things going on in their own life? By digging up her past and the past of her ancestors, she finds that inner peace and consolation. I found that the ending had some ironic humorous tones and even laughed out loud at one point. The best part of this book was the lesson that you should never underestimate the ones around you. I read this book in one day.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful section on China in early 1900s, July 31 2003
By 
Joan Martorelli (Key West) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bonesetter's Daughter (Mass Market Paperback)
I admit that I had some difficulty getting into this book. Part of my struggle has to do with the fact that my own mother is in a nursing home suffering from senile dementia. Reading the first section of Ms. Tan's book was like reliving the process of accepting my mother's deteriorating condition, and then making difficult decisions on my mother's behalf. In this first section Ruth, a Chinese-American book editor who lives with, but is not married to Art, discovers that her mother has Alzheimer's Disease. Because of her concerns about her unmarried status (fueled by her mother's disapproval), as well as her need to deal with her mother's health, she is forced to make some major decisions about her own relationships.
Aside from my own issues, I felt that the first section of the book was merely a "set up" for the second section. This part, which tells the history of Ruth's mother, takes place in China and is fascinating. I was particularly impressed by Tan's description of the culture and spirituality of Chinese writing. She describes how the caligrapher does not simply put pen to paper and draw characters; drawing begins as a process within, travels down the arm and into the fingers and then onto the paper. I loved the names of places and people--a Village called Immortal Heart, the name, Precious Auntie (the bonesetter's daughter). Ms. Tan weaves some 20th Century Chinese history into this section of the book, and we see ordinary Chinese people as victims of invading Japanese soldiers as well as Mao's Communists (a must read for a view of 20th Century Chinese history is the novel, The Wild Swan).
The third section answers some lingering questions about the bonesetter's daughter and her family. It also resolves the situation between Ruth and Art, and Ruth and her mother. Ruth is able to place her mother in a very expensive assisted living home (primarily through the funding of her estranged lover), and despite misgivings about her mother's acceptance of her new living conditions, all goes smoothly. (Trust me, putting your mother into a final living situation is never smooth). The mother even finds a love interest, which Ruth feels improves her Alzheimer's symptoms (please!). We learn all the family secrets, Ruth goes back to her man, and the book ends a tad too "happily ever after".
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5.0 out of 5 stars fast and compelling read, May 21 2003
By 
Shannon B Davis "Nepenthe" (Arlington, MA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bonesetter's Daughter (Mass Market Paperback)
This is another hit from Amy Tan about mother-daughter relationships. Once again, it focuses the similarities and differences between a Chinese-American daughter and her traditional, even superstitious, mother.
The tale of Lu Ling, and of her bonesetter mother, is really inspiring. I really enjoyed reading about early 20th century China, and there is even a sort of mystery in the book about LuLing's past and the identity of her mother. The story unfolds to us at the same time that it unfolds to Ruthie, the daughter who is dealing with her mother's memory loss. My close friend's mother also suffered from a stroke, and I know firsthand how difficult it can be when a parent becomes more like a child. Also, Ruth's relationship with her live-in lover is very commonplace and identifiable.
I read many Amy Tan books when I was still a child and they were wonderful then. As an adult woman, they resonate so much more in that parts of my own experiences are reflected. This book is a fast and compelling read. I'm sorry I waited so long to pick it up.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable but not as powerful as past Tan work, May 7 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Bonesetter's Daughter (Mass Market Paperback)
The Bonesetter's Daughter is Amy Tan's latest exploration into the complex, difficult, but compelling bonds that exist between mothers and daughters generally. Like her other novels, the mother and daughter in this novel are Chinese Americans, and Tan explores the inherent struggle between the mother's traditional views and the daughter's modern, Americanized existence.
The events of this novel have been thoroughly discussed by previous reviewers, and I will not resummarize here. I found the relationship between Ruth and her mother Luling to be realistic and troubled, but also very rich. Apart from any reference to the culture of this mother and daughter, I think many difficulties that Ruth and LuLing experienced are universal. Many mothers and daughters love each other ferociously but are unable to express it with words or actions--causing frustration and hurt. LuLing is obviously fiercely proud of Ruth's accomplishments, but cannot say so. Ruth, in turn, sees her mother as the most important person in her life--even more important than her live-in boyfriend of 10 years and life partner--but also fails to share her admiration with her mother. It was sad to read about how these characters failed to connect, but also familiar. Many of us are unable to say the most important things to the ones we love.
This novel largely also focuses upon LuLing's struggles in her native China both before and after World War II, as well as her experiences with her "Precious Auntie". While both stories were interesting, I did not believe that the character of LuLing was as well developed as many of the characters in Tan's previous works. It certainly was not as well developed as that of her daughter, Ruth. Nevertheless, this middle section was compelling as it documents all that LuLing had to do to survive the Japanese occupation and the family's struggles with the evil Chang family.
This novel was easy to read, and I finished it in a few days. I very much appreciated the depiction of Ruth's and LuLing's troubled but rewarding relationship. If you're new to Amy Tan, I would read this book after reading "The Joy Luck Club".
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5.0 out of 5 stars if you insult amy tan, you better not be near..., May 2 2003
By 
S. Xu (Somewhere in a Teacup) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Bonesetter's Daughter (Mass Market Paperback)
... (> ) yes...again, Mrs. Tan has outdone herself. Who here thought that she was amazing with the Joy Luck club? and the Hundred Secret Senses? Many authors would be a dried out husk and shell. But noooooooooooooo....this asian just keeps on coming back stronger then ever.
Alright! I admit it! I'm rather partial to asian authors because...i am too. I have heard countless remarks about how asians were brainwashed, they don't have any imagination. (ow..ow...and ow...) But I can point to any of her books and say: can you write that? HUH?! But...enough about the author...back to the book!
The starting is inticing. what's written on the note? who is she?! the entire book has the underlying values of (random fuzziness) I wept, sighed, and wondered about my lost heritage. Her books do that to you. This one, shook me by my hair and turned me upside down. This story isn't just about mothers and daughters, it's about the search for forgiveness and trust. An excellent present. This book deserves nothing but to be devoured hungrily by the vultures of the book-world. enjoy.
Raven~
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The Bonesetter's Daughter
The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan (Mass Market Paperback - Jan. 29 2002)
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