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3.8 out of 5 stars25
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-7 of 7 reviews(3 star).Show all reviews
on June 20, 2002
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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on April 12, 2000
"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.
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on February 18, 2000
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.
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on June 29, 2001
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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on July 8, 2002
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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on May 14, 1998
I really enjoyed the cultural aspects of this book--the descriptions of what it's like to experience America as a Chineese American, and how some of the traditions carry over, etc., but I didn't like way the book seemed to be centered around Ona's suicide (it didn't start that way, but about halfway through that's all you read about). I understand that the family was completely and irrevocably changed by her death, but I wish some of the other characters could have been better developed (especially Nina!)...
It's not a bad book, just not my first choice...
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on June 26, 1999
The historical references about San Francisco's Chinese immigrants were enlightening and fascinating. The main character, however, was not. The story was interesting but I feel it lost its full impact due to being funneled through a too-normal protagonist.
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