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THE BONESETTER'S DAUGHTER
Genre: Mainstream, General Mainstream Fiction
Amy Tan is well known for her explorations of immigrant life in American culture and for how that life affects the powerful bond between mother and daughter. This is another in-depth look at the complex relationships of women and family.
Ms. Tan weaves together two separate stories, that of modern day Ruth and of her mother LuLing. Ruth is caring for her mother, who suffers from Alzheimers, when she finds LuLings writings. She reads tales of LuLings past that pose fascinating parallels for Ruth, whos been grappling with her work as a ghost writer and her strange bouts of muteness.
Ruth learns of LuLings childhood in 1930s China and her mothers longing for her Auntie, who raised her and whose muteness was the result of a tragic accident.
The juxtaposition of Ruths own loss of speech with that of her Aunties becomes a thread that binds much of the novel together. The tangled threads are further knotted by the discovery of the Peking Man.
As Ruth reads her mothers story she begins to see her in new ways; ways that bring them closer together and enable Ruth to find new strength in her own life.
However, it is not until Ruth uncovers a subtle difference in the translation of Aunties last name that the pieces of the puzzle of their family fall together.
Since The Joy Luck Club, I have been fascinated by Amy Tans unique ability to fearlessly explore the subtle nuances of mother and daughter relationships. She has helped me see through both sets of eyes and I am still flabbergasted at how she does it. She also teaches me about another culture, time and placewhile at the same time, helping me grapple with my own life. That is Ms. Tans true gift as a storyteller. (Now available, 353 pp., $25.95)
Reviewed By: Kathe Robin
Published: June 2001