Customer Reviews


25 Reviews
5 star:
 (9)
4 star:
 (6)
3 star:
 (7)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


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

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Writing, Good Story, Poor Editing
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...
Published on June 20 2002 by Bernadette Geyer


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars ultimately life affirming, Oct. 10 2000
By 
Orrin C. Judd "brothersjudddotcom" (Hanover, NH USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bone (Paperback)
We were a family of three girls. By Chinese standards, that wasn't lucky. In Chinatown, everyone knew our story. Outsiders jerked their chins, looked at us, shook their heads. We heard things. -Fae Myenne Ng, Bone
Thus begins Fae Myenne Ng's excellent novel about three sisters growing up in San Francisco's Chinatown. The story that everyone knows is how the middle sister, Ona, committed suicide by jumping off of the Nam, a local housing project officially named the Nam Ping Yuen. The novel tells of the struggle of the narrator, the eldest sister Leila, and her mother, stepfather and sister to deal with this death and the guilt they all feel. Mah, the mother, feels that it's a result of bad luck brought on by the affair she had with her boss. Leon, the father, thinks the tragedy struck because he violated his vow to ship his father's bones back to China. The sisters are sure that they could have stopped it if they'd had just one more conversation with her. But these explanations, of course, prove unsatisfactory and the story unfolds almost like a mystery as Leila's memory flashes back to reconstruct this family's life and the chain of events that must somehow have lead Ona to that rooftop.
But this novel is more than just a Chinese version of Ordinary People. It often seems that American Culture has only two versions of the Chinese that it trots out over and over. In crime melodramas they are always either the evil Chinese warlord or the chopsocky sidekick. In everything else, Chinese Americans are two dimensional drones--hard working, barely human, super successful, over achievers--who practically define the American Dream. Neither of these images has been undermined by the Clinton administration's scandal's which feature Chinese generals and spies on the one hand and, on the other hand, seemingly simple gardeners, resterauntuers and nuns with millions to contribute to politics.
Ng asks us to consider what kind of pressures and recriminations a Chinese American family would face if they failed to achieve the American Dream. Suppose the laundry business goes bust and the savings are wiped out. Suppose after a lifetime of hard work, they're still stuck in the same apartment in the same neighborhood they started out in. What's life like when the dreams don't all come true? And how do the children in this family escape without feeling like traitors and without turning their backs on their heritage?
These are the questions that Ng seeks to answer. In so doing, she affords us a glimpse at a community that is truly foreign to us. Foreign not merely because of ethnicity, but because of the too facile stereotypes that we've been saddled with by an indolent media and by a political class where both sides have a vested interest in perpetuating the myths.
Like all fiction of this sort, the blame and the wallowing in sorrow gets to be a little tedious, but just when she's in danger of losing us, the novel ends on a wonderful life affirming note. I liked it very much.
GRADE: B+
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Values of a Chinese-American family., April 12 2000
By 
Morgan Wilson (Durango, Colorado) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bone (Paperback)
"Bone," by Fae Myenne Ng, uses family values to portray a Chinese family coping with and adapting to an American life in the 1970's. This is an intricate story of three sisters and their struggle to create their own lives in America. Adapting to a new life and culture is an almost insurmountable task to these sisters. Nina, one of the three, moves to New York city and gradually separates herself from her family. Ona commits suicide and leaves her family with a tragic loss. Lei, who has a different father from her sisters, lives a fairly unique life trying to assist her family's needs. Ma, the mother of the three, desperately tries to re-create her life in America. Within her struggle to change her life, she marries Leon to gain her citizenship. Ma strives to continue to lead her family using traditional Chinese values, yet falls short. As each member of the family progresses throughout her struggles, readers will grasp and possibly understand the pain and suffering it takes to maintain family values and conquer change.
In "Bone," Fae Myenne Ng uses a unique structure to tell the story of a Chinese- American family adjusting to changing times. When told by Lei, the order of the chapters is backwards, while other chapters go forward in time. The element of time adds to the overall feeling of a personal narrative, because the details flow as if Lei remembers them gradually, Ng's use of structure makes Lei's story understandable, personal, and gives it a good sense of continuity, just as a narrative should.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Spare, elegant and poignant. Real life in Chinatown., Dec 4 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Bone (Paperback)
Having been exposed to San Francisco's Chinatown since I was a very small child I was moved by the graceful and melencholic story in Bone. For many years I was a cab driver in San Francisco and one of my favorite places for buisness was in Chinatown. I am a white person with a classic "anglo" background and have rarely seen beyond the public surfaces that the Chinese community shows. So I have a degree of curiosity about the culture from five decades of exposure and the appreciation of an outsider. I am intimately familiar with the images, sounds and smells. I know where the mah jong parlors are in basements in alleys, I know the restraunts, the drug stores and sewing factories with considerable familiarity. This book took me inside all the familiar exteriors that I know so well. I believed every word and felt every breath and heard every inflection. It was a book I savored and read slowly for the poignant dignity of the reality behind the storefronts and and exteriors. It was as good a look and as well written as I believe anyone could do. Someday I'll read it again. This year I'll give it as a Christmas present to those I know will be able to most appreciate this really good and extremely well written book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Quite a Timewarp, Feb. 18 2000
By 
Francium (Rochester, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bone (Paperback)
Bone is a very effective story with dynamic characters (especially Leon). This book a good representation of Asian American Literature. What I didn't like about it was how Ng decided to present her story. Would it really have killed the author to tell the story in chronological order? This book's timeline was more confusing than Falkner's The Sound and the Fury. If you really work at it, you can eventually figure out the order of events. I didn't like was how the book concludes at a point in the near beginning of the storyline (before Ona's death). The conclusions that the main character comes to about her life had no impact on me because I knew that something devastating happens right afterwards that will inevitably alter Leila's opinion. Also, there are a few anacharisms in Ng's storyline, proving that the chopped up time frame even tripped her up a little.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Simple, pleasant, yet forlorn novel, Sept. 21 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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Bone: A Novel
Bone: A Novel by Fae Myenne Ng (Hardcover - Jan. 14 1993)
Used & New from: CDN$ 0.03
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews