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Merle

Merle

The Bonesetter's Daughter - Amy Tan I enjoyed The Bonesetter's Daughter so much that I read the entire novel in one day, which is saying something for a 350-page book.

The book is divided into three sections: first, we meet a Chinese-American woman, Ruth, who has a difficult relationship with her elderly Chinese mother, LuLing. We read about their current struggles and get extensive flashbacks from their often dramatic past. The heart of the novel comes in the next section--LuLing's memoir about her young life in China--and the final section ties things together. At this point Amy Tan seems to have perfected her craft: the plot is fascinating throughout, the characterization excellent, the prose and dialogue and solid. Elements of Chinese history and culture are woven seamlessly into the story. The main characters' relationships are quite nuanced and the end is satisfying. I don't really have anything negative to say about this book, which is rare.

Why only four stars, then? Because I've read Amy Tan before, and this book is very similar to her others. If you've already been exposed to her work, then you already know Ruth, LuLing, Ruth's aunt GaoLing, even her boyfriend Art. The relationships between these characters and even LuLing's eventful past felt very familiar; to some readers this will seem comfortable, to others, formulaic. It didn't really take away from my enjoyment of the book, but it did keep it from having that extra "spark" that would cause me to give 5 stars. I would certainly recommend The Bonesetter's Daughter; it's just unlikely to seem original to those who have read the author's other works.