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25 Reviews
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5.0 out of 5 stars encountering dislocation and difference
This is an exceptional book that I would categorize generally under postcolonial writing. Writers who have emerged from histories impacted by colonization such as Salaman Rushdie and Leslie Marmon Silko often use a non-linear, form-twisting style that has taken the standard Western 'novel' to new heights. This is not just an artistic, aesthetic statement but also a highly...
Published on May 25 2004

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3.0 out of 5 stars has potential
Whenever I read a book I ask myself whether it resonates with truth or credibility. I think this book does to a certain extent. I was able to identify with many aspects of the day to day life of this immigrant family. But what I found lacked substance were the characters themselves. As one reader noted, Mason is one-dimensional. I found this to be true of all the...
Published on July 8 2002 by cwyc_1


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5.0 out of 5 stars encountering dislocation and difference, May 25 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Bone (Paperback)
This is an exceptional book that I would categorize generally under postcolonial writing. Writers who have emerged from histories impacted by colonization such as Salaman Rushdie and Leslie Marmon Silko often use a non-linear, form-twisting style that has taken the standard Western 'novel' to new heights. This is not just an artistic, aesthetic statement but also a highly political one as well that speaks to different cultures, different histories and continuing effects of of dislocation, relocation, and oppressions.
Ng is clearly an heir to this type of writing, and implements it superbly. With deceptively simple prose, her characters reveal the impacts of racism against Chinese immigrants to the US, and the despairs of working class immigrant life in San Francisco Chinatown. At the same time her characters show that what keeps a family together is sometimes love and loyalty, and sometimes the ever-present effects of history.
If you are looking for a book that reproduces comfortable mainstream standards for novels -- for example A to Z linearity, universal humanist themes and cultural familiarity -- then you may not be interested in this book. However, for those of us whose lives and minds are not so simplistic, and are willing to face unfamiliar realities due to differences of culture, history, class, race and gender (or perhaps for those who can identify with the realities revealed in this novel), then this is an excellent work whose beauty will stick with you after you are finished reading it.
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1.0 out of 5 stars not worth it, April 27 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Bone (Paperback)
I was expecting a well composed novel and ended up with a story instead. Have you ever been stuck on the telephone with a friend who insisted on reporting a personal story in a rambled manner while you have better things to do with your time? Or better yet, just get completely bored with the whole thing and hang up as quickly as possible? That's what I felt like while reading this novel. The composition of this novel was, at best, junior high level. And, to top it off, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and was unable to conjure up any interest in her ongoing blah blah blah about what street she was walking or driving through. I think I'm going to take BART to the city and abandon the book somewhere in Chinatown.
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2.0 out of 5 stars An semi-interesting read, Contemporary Rubbish nevertheless, Aug. 31 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Bone (Paperback)
Unfortunately, this novel was on my summer reading list, else I'd never have picked up a piece of rubbish such as this.
It was detestable from the start, since the story began in the middle and nothing was appropriately introduced. This could have worked if the author was Homer, but Ng is far from a great storyteller, and her attempt at this has brought nothing but confusion. As the novel proceeded, the readers are *slowly* introduced to the situation of the Leong family (unless reading the cover flap was intended as part of the introduction of the plot!): the middle daughter named Ona jumped off a high-rise building, which has caused considerable grief in the family. However, instead of detailing the aftermath of Ona's actions and its effect on the Leong family, Ng spent no less than 70+ pages (of a 197 page novel printed in large size fonts) describing the incident with no chronological order! Oh please! She could have at least smoothed out the time transitions instead of jumping harshly from one time period to another.
The ending, like one reviewer said, was "crappy". And indeed there is no better word to describe the ending than "crappy". Why? Because the ending actually ended in the time period *before* the beginning of the book! However, to make things even more confusing, Ng introduced something that might seem like it would be in the appropriate ending time period. Confused? That was her intention, or some rather weak attempt at metaphorical endings.
Of course, with our schools being the way they are, it does not surprise me at all that the mediocre, second-rate teachers (with exclusion of 1 or 2) at our high school's English Department would choose a piece of rubbish such as this instead of classics which are what high-school aged students should be reading. Don't buy or even check it out, it's a waste of time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Poetic and deeply moving, July 22 2003
By 
the-big-bend "Becool" (Houston, TX United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bone (Paperback)
This is a great book about how ordinary people trying desperately to live with dignity and the tragedy that associates with such desperation. The story unfolds slowly and keeps you suspended until the very last moment. It is written beautifully and poetically. You don't have to be Chinese to read this book. The psychological drama plays out in this books is so universal and genuine and at times reminds me of that in "A long day's journey into the night."
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4.0 out of 5 stars Reminds me of home, July 5 2003
This review is from: Bone (Paperback)
This book was an easy read. Out of all the books I've read this one contained a literary character, Leon, which made the book enjoyable to me. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars because I thought the ending was a bit abrupt. This book really made you feel for the characters. Leila was torn between family responsibility and wanting her own life. I feel that this book was really about identity. As I said before, Leon is one of the best literary characters I read about he's both simple and complex. The kind of guy that can't seem to catch a break and constantly keeping busy. Other than that it's worth picking up the book because I couldn't put it down.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read, deep and not gloomy, July 11 2002
By 
"ikotik" (Brooklyn, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bone (Paperback)
A professor in my college recommended this book, when I picked it up and saw a topic - a suicide of one of the sisters - I was taken aback, I am not into depressing, gloomy books.
But I am glad I read it - it's one of the best books, after reading it the order of the chapters does not confuse you any more. I thought it was a bit made up how the author tried to mention 'bones' in several contexts just to tide it to the name of the book, and it was still puzzling why the sister did it - drugs, pressure? but the rest of it is great, simple, funny, and not pretentious.
Grade : A
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3.0 out of 5 stars has potential, July 8 2002
By 
"cwyc_1" (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bone (Paperback)
Whenever I read a book I ask myself whether it resonates with truth or credibility. I think this book does to a certain extent. I was able to identify with many aspects of the day to day life of this immigrant family. But what I found lacked substance were the characters themselves. As one reader noted, Mason is one-dimensional. I found this to be true of all the characters. Perhaps the father was the only one who seemed impassioned by anything. Even the mother's character was not fully developed. What motivated her to have an affair with the factory owner? The story line had potential, but it was meandering and I kept wondering where it was going and what was the point.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good Writing, Good Story, Poor Editing, June 20 2002
This review is from: Bone (Paperback)
Bone is a good first novel that could've been even better if it were told chronologically. Fae Myenne Ng tells the tale of the pressures and problems faced by a first-generation Chinese-American family with teenage daughters coming of age in Western society, namely, San Francisco's Chinatown.
Bone is an engaging story revolving around the suicide of one of the sisters, Ona, who is forbidden from marrying the boy she loves. The father in the family is a dreamer/drifter who works at sea for months at a time as a crew member aboard trading ships, leaving the mother to care for the girls. The mother is a seamstress in what we currently term "a sweatshop" (a necessary job due to the father's lack of stable employment). She does a stupendous job of teaching her daughters a strong work ethic, despite the poor example of the oft-unemployed father.
While the book's individual chapters are well-written and are fast reads, the chapters do tend to jump around in time like scattered memories written in a journal to try to make sense of an event that has taken place years earlier. Unfortunately, this means that the reader is often unsure for several pages of whether they are reading about an event that happened prior to the suicide, after the parent's separation, or sometime during the girls' childhood.
If you are looking for novels that depict the familial culture clashes of first generation Chinese-American families, this is a fair example of the genre. However, there are probably other examples that are far better.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Simple, pleasant, yet forlorn novel, Sept. 22 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Bone (Paperback)
Though this book is not among my favorites, I have to say there was something abot it that caught my attention. Upon completing it, I found that it leaves the reader with a sense of wanting. This books requires some time to stew in your brain once you finish it. The circular plot, common among many Asian authors, follows a of time in a non linear and almost circular order. This book deals with many depressing topics, many of whcih are commonplace in the real world. This novel gives you a good idea of the life of a contemporary Asian women dealing with a new husband and the ability to break family ties in a time of needed resolve and great depression. I would recommend this novel for someone who is not looking for a complicated plot, but just an uplifting and yet somehow still depressing novel. And when you finish, think about it. You'll be glad you did.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't think of a title, June 29 2001
This review is from: Bone (Paperback)
While I loved this story and found the non-linear plotline to be fasinating, I have a major complaint that has kept me from giving this book 5 stars......THE ENDING!!!!!
To avoid giving the ending away I'll just say that the ending is very vague. You're not sure if the ending is wraping up the story or flashing back to an event in the past, it's that vague. I found this so annoying that it really took away a big chunk of enjoyment right out of the book for me. Up untill then I was totally engrossed in Bone. If the author intended to leave the story open ended w/ a flashback, then she should have made that clear and I would have ended the book on the high note that I started it on, same for if she was giving it a clear ending.
So my final analysis is: great story, crappy ending.
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Bone: A Novel
Bone: A Novel by Fae Myenne Ng (Hardcover - Jan. 14 1993)
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