I think that when Amy Tan is right on she is definitely right on. A few years ago I devoured every book she had written and still have all of her books on my bookshelf. I decided to re-read "The Bonesetter's Daughter" for my Booklikes-opoly square.
The "Bonesetter's Daughter"is told as a shifting narrative of a Chines American daughter (Ruth) trying to deal with her mother (LuLing) who is starting to lose her memory due to Alzheimer's. Ruth feels frustrated trying to deal with her mother and with her relationship with her lover Art. At times Ruth becomes mute and is unable to express herself. When she finds her mother's diary she decides to have it translated and the diary allows her to really see her mother for the first time.
Ruth was a trial for me at times. Seriously. I wanted her to take a stand against her boyfriend/lover and his terrible kids. They were exhausting to even read about. But I did feel smidgens of sympathy for her here and there. Her mother's obsession with ghosts, curses, and embarrassing her as a child are definitely things that would make it hard for you to sympathize initially with LuLing until we get to her story.
I will admit that at first I didn't like LuLing until we (readers) get to read the memoirs that Ruth is having translated from what her mother wrote. You get LuLing's earlier younger voice and your heart is definitely going to break when you read about what she dealt with while living in China. It also helps Ruth better understand her mother and realize why her mother acted the way she did while she was growing up. The two women get closer towards the end of the book which did make me happy.
I have always loved Amy Tan's writing. She manages to make every sentence count and just draw you in. I felt every second of LuLing's younger voice via her diary as she remembers what her life in China was like. And also her sadness when she realizes her daughter is pulling away from her. I will say though the reason why I only gave this four stars is that the first part of the book that primarily is told from Ruth's POV was hard to get through. That's why I didn't give it 5 stars.
The setting of the book goes back and forth from San Francisco to China. The China parts of the book felt the most alive to me. Reading about LuLing living at Immortal Heart made it seem like the a stark and desolate place.
The ending was poignant but also sad. I know that this book is quite realistic with showing how Alzheimer's affects people and families, but I still wished for a different ending.
Paperback: 368 pages
Total: $ Balance: $179