Tuesday, May 29, 2012

book review: the bonesetter's daughter

I've been hearing about what a great author Amy Tan is since high school, but somehow I'd never really managed to pick up any of her books. The other week at Indigo I decided to remedy this, and grabbed a copy of The Bonesetter's Daughter (because it was the cheapest of her books and, well, I'm cheap.)

It took me awhile to get into, but oh was this a good book. There are a few stories, taking place in different time periods, woven together here. There's the story of Ruth Young, learning her family's true past and taking care of her ailing mother, as well as her relationship with her partner. There's memory of her childhood. The best story, though, is LuLing's (Ruth's mother) account of her youth and trip to America. They all worked together brilliantly.

LuLing comes across as such a vivid, realistic character. Except for the fact that she's Chinese and not Hungarian, she could be my own grandmother. Ruth herself is complex and prickly, flawed and loving. Strong characters are a requirement for me in most books, and they were most certainly strong and realistic.

Tan's writing style spoke to me, the way she melded dialogue and story.

One thing I hate to admit, though, is that I did have trouble keeping my attention on the book. I'd happily read for stretches, but at no point did I feel compelled to pick it up and finish, but I was happy to have it around. Maybe it's that I had other things on my mind, or maybe with all the stories taking place I needed to let them sink in. I'm not sure.

Either way, I'll go out of my way to read more of her work in the future.

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