The Bonesetter's Daughter

The Bonesetter's Daughter by: Amy Tan

Published: 2001

# of pages: 403

Quote: "She wanted to be here, as her mother told her about her life, taking her through all the detours of the past, explaining the multiple meanings of Chinese words, how to translate her heart." -Ruth pp. 168-69

This is the story of Ruth and her mother LuLing. The two women grew up living together in California after the death of Ruth's father when she was two. Ruth tells the story of her childhood with her mother and reads about her mother's past, learning the Liu family secrets that go back to her grandmother's childhood in China.

I felt like this was a really touching story about the power of words and communication. I was kind of afraid it would be a really girly, sentimental story, but it wasn't in the way I expected it to be. I really related to Ruth's feelings and her way of life, so maybe that was one reason why I enjoyed the book so much. I also found the mystery of the Liu family fascinating. It's told in the present time of Ruth's middle aged years as she looks back on her own childhood and then discovers a memoir her mother wrote about her own childhood. LuLing, in turn, also received a memoir from her own mother describing her past. The family has a heritage of writing and using written words to communicate secrets that they can't seem to say out loud.

It also made me realize the strength of relationships between most mothers and daughters and how closely their feelings are intwined. I hope that my possible future daughter and I have a more open relationship and are able to communicate better than Ruth and LuLing and LuLing and her mother. Reading this book made me feel grateful for my own relationship with my mother as well and also a little disturbed about how easy it is to hurt a mother's feelings when you are a teenager and more selfish than you are before and later in life. All this mother-daughter stuff really does make this book sound mushy and sentimental, but it's not that bad! It was well-written, but easy to read. I enjoyed reading about all of the characters and was interested to see the different points of view that are presented in the novel. I also loved the historical and cultural setting of LuLing's life in China. This is going on my favorites list for being so well-written and because I couldn't put it down, that's why I finished it so fast.

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