The Bonesetter's Daughter MAG

By Vincent C., Wichita, KS

     Amy Tan did not learn her mother's true name untilthe day she died. Shocked, Tan suddenly realized how little she knew about hermother. From this frustration comes Tan's masterpiece The Bonesetter's Daughter.In it, Tan explores the intriguing relationship between a mother anddaughter.

Ruth is a Chinese-American woman living with her boyfriend Artand his two daughters in San Francisco. Constantly troubled by everyday worries,Ruth seems to enjoy her life as a ghostwriter for self-help books, but hesitateswhen asked if she has "ever wanted to write [her] own book." Ruthrealizes she cannot rush through life "tending to think about her matterssecond to others."

When Ruth's mother LuLing shows disturbingbehavior, including suicidal threats, Ruth decides to move in and care for herdespite Art's protests. There, Ruth comes across LuLing's diary. When LuLingsuspected she had Alzheimer's, she began recording her memories of her past inChina, noting "these are the things [she] must not forget."

Ruth has the diary translated and learns not only about her mother's pastbut her grandmother's too. The novel suddenly switches to China years ago, whereLu-Ling grew up in the close company of the Famous Bonesetter's daughter,Precious Auntie.

The Bonesetter's Daughter illustrates the importance ofknowing your past as a means of truly understanding your identity. It alsoreflects Tan's personal frustration with not having learned more of her mother'sstory. Consequently, Ruth vows to "spend more time getting to know" hermother. Ruth discovers while staring at a photo of her grandmother and motherthat "these are the women who shaped her life, who are in her bones."She learns that the messages from previous stories have been "passed down,not simply to scare her, but to force her to avoid their footsteps, to hope forsomething better."

Reading her mother's words, Ruth learns howstrong both her mother and grandmother were. In the process, Ruth becomesstronger too. Tan's message to her readers is to avoid the mistake of not knowingyour family and taking the time to discover yourself and appreciating yourhistory.

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i love this !


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