The Bonesetter's Daughter

The Bonesetter's Daughter

Book - 2001
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Baker & Taylor
Struggling to regain her voice and express her true feelings to her husband, ghostwriter Ruth Young discovers that her inability to speak closely parallels the story of her mother LuLing's early life in China, where Ruth finds the famous bonesetter, a woman whose mouth was sealed shut during a suicide attempt.

Blackwell North Amer
In memories that rise like wisps of ghosts, LuLing Young searches for the name of her mother, the daughter of the Famous Bonesetter from the Mouth of the Mountain. Trying to hold on to the evaporating past, she begins to write all that she can remember of her life as a girl in China. Meanwhile, her daughter Ruth, a ghostwriter for authors of self-help books, is losing the ability to speak up for herself in front of the man she lives with and his two teenage daughters. None of her professional sound bites and pat homilies works for her personal life: she knows only how to translate what others want to say.
Ruth starts suspecting that something is terribly wrong with her mother. As a child, Ruth had been constantly subjected to her mother's disturbing notions about curses and ghosts, and to her repeated threats that she would kill herself, and was even forced by her to try to communicate with ghosts. But now LuLing seems less argumentative, even happy, far from her usual disagreeable and dissatisfied self.
While tending to her ailing mother, Ruth discovers the pages LuLing wrote in Chinese, the story of her tumultuous and star-crossed life, and is transported to a backwoods village known as Immortal Heart. There she learns of secrets passed along by a mute nursemaid, Precious Auntie; of a cave where "dragon bones" are mined, some of which may prove to be the teeth of Peking Man; of the crumbling ravine known as the End of the World, where Precious Auntie's scattered bones lie, and of the curse that LuLing believes she released through betrayal. Like layers of sediment being removed, each page reveals secrets of a larger mystery: What became of Peking Man? What was the name of the Bonesetter's Daughter? And who was Precious Auntie, whose suicide changed the path of LuLing's life? Within LuLing's calligraphed pages awaits the truth about a mother's heart, what she cannot tell her daughter yet hopes she will never forget.
Set in contemporary San Francisco and in the Chinese village where Peking Man is being unearthed, The Bonesetter's Daughter is an excavation of the human spirit: the past, its deepest wounds, its most profound hopes. The story conjures the pain of broken dreams, the power of myths, and the strength of love that enables us to recover in memory what we have lost in grief. Over the course of one fog-shrouded year, between one season of falling stars and the next, mother and daughter find what they share in their bones through heredity, history, and inexpressible qualities of love.

Publisher: New York : G.P. Putnam's, c2001
ISBN: 9780399146435
0399146431
9780399146855
0399146857
9780345457370
Characteristics: 353 p. ; 24 cm

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OllPuff9
Jul 25, 2017

I found this book far better than "The Joy Luck Club" which I have to admit I could not finish. I have seen parts of the movie (JLC) and thought I would like the book, especially since I liked this one so much. I couldn't put this book down; Joy Luck Club I returned only 1/3 read.

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Eil_1
Jul 25, 2016

A timeless and beautiful recounting of Ruth's life with her mother - an immigrant from China following WWII; the discovery of handwritten account of her mother's life in China that reveals the identity of Ruth's Grandmother - "Precious Auntie". Highly recommended.

ehbooklover Apr 13, 2015

An exploration of the relationship between mothers and daughters, told effectively via different generations of the same family. Realistic characters, interesting descriptions of Chinese culture and traditions, plus an engaging story made for a great read.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 22, 2014

Amy Tan excels in the exploration of relationships between immigrant parents and American born children, and especially so in this novel of the discovery of a mother’s handwritten account of her life in China. Over the course of a year, mother and daughter finally discover what they share in their bones.

s
swz2000
Nov 08, 2013

A very touching story. I like Amy Tan's books.

m
marmoore
Aug 21, 2012

Amy Tan always tells a good story.

a
arleenwilliams
Aug 03, 2012

A rich rewarding read.

p
Pepperbot
Apr 09, 2012

I loved this book! Mundane occurances become interesting and funny when Tan writes about them, and those difficult aspects of relationships are portrayed so perfectly. And that's not all - the story was really interesting, being told through a few generations. A beautiful book overall. Lovely.

k
kawichick
Nov 25, 2010

Novel picks up in the second third of the book however falls flat in plot and character development.

echidna Oct 29, 2009

The Bonesetter's Daughter is told in three parts: present day San Francisco; a small village in China pre-1940; and then back to present day U.S.A.

Ruth's mother, LuLing, was born in China and raised by a horribly disfigured nursemaid called Precious Auntie. There is a mystery surrounding the identity of LuLing's mother. LuLing's husband died young, so it was just Ruth and her mother in her family as she grew up. As an adult, Ruth has great difficulty negotiating intimate relationships. She has lived with a divorced man and his two teenaged daughters for 10 years, but still doesn't feel like she belongs there. Meanwhile, she worries about her mother, who is developing Alzheimer's. LuLing and Ruth are both complex, interesting women.

The first two parts were excellent but the final part seemed rushed and everything gets resolved into an unrealistically happy ending. Still, I would recommend this to women who enjoy reading about mother-daughter relationships. That is definitely Amy Tan's greatest strength.

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Lauren May 07, 2008

Ruth, a Chinese-American woman in San Francisco, worries that her elderly mother LuLing is beginning to suffer from dementia. Years earlier, when LuLing realized her memory was starting to disappear, she wrote down her life story for her daughter, in Chinese. Ruth finds these documents and has them translated, learning the truth about her mother's life in China and the effect it has had on her own life.

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