The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan – Book Review

(I am copying book reviews from my Goodreads, starting with the books I read in November 2017. See my profile for the rest of my reviews.)


Not everyone can or will appreciate this book to the same degree, and it’s not all a matter of personal preference. Some people have experienced what Ruth and LuLing, our principal characters, experience herein. Whether you are a woman, a mother, a daughter, the child of immigrants, an immigrant, or specifically if you are Chinese, this book will strike several chords with you. If you are none or only one of these things, you will likely not relate to much of the content. I personally relate to almost all of these criteria, so for me, it was a powerful, sad, sweet, intriguing, mysterious and–at times–creepy tale. It checked a lot of boxes!

I didn’t have any specific problems with this book, except that it didn’t stay with me. The writing is skilful, the characters relatable and the descriptions aptly long. What pushes something to a 5-star rating, however, is the lasting effect it has on me. Some books contain written passages I will remember for years to come. Others contain characters I think about after I read those final words. This book contained neither, even though none of its individual elements were lacking.

The weakest characters and subplots were those surrounding Ruth’s boyfriend and his family. I really disliked them all, and didn’t want to read about them. They were disrespectful to Ruth and her mother. If they were erased from the book and replaced with more material about either Ruth’s or LuLing’s childhood, I would have liked this book more.

Overall, this was a highly enjoyable read. Some parts more so than others, but I will definitely pick up more of Tan’s work in future.

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