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The Bonesetter's Daughter

Cover of The Bonesetter's Daughter

The Bonesetter's Daughter

by Amy Tan
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Set in Contemporary San Francisco and in a 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 dream, 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.

Set in Contemporary San Francisco and in a 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 dream, 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.

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    9 - 12

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Awards-
About the Author-
  • Amy Tan is the author of The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses and two children's books, The Moon Lady and Chinese Siamese Cat ,which will be adapted as a PBS series for children for Fall 2001. Tan was a co-producer and co-screenwriter of the film version of The Joy Luck CLub, and her essays and stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Her work has been translated into more than 25 languages. She lives with her husband in San Francisco and New York.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 1, 2001
    In its rich character portrayals and sensitivity to the nuances of mother-daughter relationships, Tan's new novel is the real successor to, and equal of, The Joy Luck Club. This luminous and gripping book demonstrates enhanced tenderness and wisdom, however; it carries the texture of real life and reflects the paradoxes historical events can produce. Ruth Young is a 40-ish ghostwriter in San Francisco who periodically goes mute, a metaphorical indication of her inability to express her true feelings to the man she lives with, Art Kamen, a divorced father of two teenage daughters. Ruth's inability to talk is subtly echoed in the story of her mother LuLing's early life in China, which forms the long middle section of the novel. Overbearing, accusatory, darkly pessimistic, LuLing has always been a burden to Ruth. Now, at 77, she has Alzheimer's, but luckily she had recorded in a diary the extraordinary events of her childhood and youth in a small village in China during the years that included the discovery nearby of the bones of Peking Man, the Japanese invasion, the birth of the Republic and the rise of Communism. LuLing was raised by a nursemaid called Precious Auntie, the daughter of a famous bonesetter. Once beautiful, Precious Auntie's face was burned in a suicide attempt, her mouth sealed with scar tissue. When LuLing eventually learns the secrets of Precious Auntie's tragic life, she is engulfed by shame and guilt. These emotions are echoed by Ruth when she reads her own mother's revelations, and she finally understands why LuLing thought herself cursed. Tan conjures both settings with resonant detail, juxtaposing scenes of rural domestic life in a China still ruled by superstition and filial obedience, and of upscale California half a century later. The novel exhibits a poignant clarity as it investigates the dilemma of adult children who must become caretakers of their elderly parents, a situation Tan articulates with integrity and exemplary empathy for both generations. Agent, Sandy Dijkstra. (Feb. 19) Forecast: With a readership already clamoring for the book, and Tan embarking on a 22-city tour, this novel will be a sure hit; its terrific sepia-tinted cover photo of a woman in old China only adds to its allure. Moreover, readers will be intrigued by Tan's hint that this story about family secrets is semi-autobiographical. The dedication reads: "On the last day my mother spent on earth, I learned her real name, as well as that of my grandmother."

  • AudioFile Magazine Amy Tan's fiction is built upon pairs, dualities, and contrasts: daughters and mothers, native and immigrant, American and Chinese, present and past--a rich interplay of themes, narrative forms, and voices that is perfectly matched in this reading. The two readers' voices and performing styles together express the richness and range of characters, settings, and situations that the novel encompasses. Tan contributes the necessary authorial command and lack of affectedness to the historical passages, while Chen has the stamina and flexibility to deliver the extended dialogues on which the novel so much depends, slipping easily back and forth between immigrant Chinese and California girl voices. The book's slow first half, with its seemingly endless succession of Alzheimer's symptoms, merely prepares the way for the wondrous, masterful unfolding of the historical narrative that dominates the novel's second half, set in China after the fall of the emperors, in the last century. Tan's richly detailed story of ink-making and bone doctors, and a woman who must choose between two suitors, is storytelling in its oldest and truest form--a tale of mothers and daughters, wives and widows, a story of generations past rediscovered, and its lessons learned, in the generation present. D.A.W. (c) AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine
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    Phoenix Books, Inc.
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The Bonesetter's Daughter
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