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The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan

Review by Liara

Ruth Young is a happy, successful woman, with a job she enjoys and a longtime boyfriend she lives with. She can almost forget her unusual childhood, shaped by her Chinese immigrant mother LuLing's strange behavior. But LuLing's obsession with ghosts, death, and the nursemaid she called Precious Auntie only grows. Struggling to understand her mother's past and her own faltering relationship, Ruth finds a stack of papers written by her mother and has it translated. The heart of the book is in LuLing's first-person narrative of her extraordinary life in China. LuLing's story covers everything from her family's ink-making business to World War II, the discovery of Peking Man to the mystery of who Precious Auntie really was.

I really liked LuLing's part of the book. It was written in such a dramatic, personal way that I just had to keep reading to see what sort of happy, sweet or bizarrely tragic event was going to happen next. Ruth's parts were good as well, but I didn't enjoy them as much; often I was just paying attention to them to see what I could find out about LuLing. This made for slow reading sometimes, since the book is divided into two main sections and Ruth's was first. However, the characters, not the plot, are what the book is really about, and they are extremely well-written and become very real. I also liked Tan's use of language and all the details she put in.

Overall, I thought this was quite a good book. The only reason it's not getting a higher grade is the slow pace of Ruth's parts and the way that the parts were separated, which I thought was rather abrupt. 4 amulets.


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