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Reading Guides

Bonesetter's Daughter
Amy Tan
Hardcover

ABOUT AMY TAN

Amy Tan is the author of The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, and two children’s books, The Moon Lady and The Chinese Siamese Cat, which will be adapted as a PBS series for children. Tan was a co-producer and co-screenwriter for the film version of The Joy Luck Club, and her essays and stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Her work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. Tan, who has a master’s degree in linguistics from San Jose State University, has worked as a language specialist to programs serving children with developmental disabilities. She lives with her husband in San Francisco and New York.

Praise

"Amy Tan strikes gold once again. In her first novel in six years, Tan returns to the theme of mothers and daughters simultaneously estranged and bonded, a subject she treated so memorably in The Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God's Wife. A beautifully modulated amalgam of grief, pride, resentment and resignation."
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"In its rich character portrayals and sensitivity to the nuances of mother-daughter relationships, Amy Tan’s new novel is the real successor to, and equal of, The Joy Luck Club. This luminous and gripping book demonstrates enhanced tenderness and wisdom, however; it carries the texture of real life and reflects the paradoxes historical events can produce."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Memory plays an important role in The Bonesetter's Daughter. How is Ruth’s life affected by her childhood memories? How do LuLing’s memories affect her behavior around Ruth?
     
  2. How does LuLing attempt to convey the difficulties of her formative years to Ruth? Does she succeed? Why/why not? In the constant sparring between Ruth and LuLing, who do you think is at fault?
     
  3. Much of The Bonesetter's Daughter revolves around superstition. How does this aspect of Chinese culture affect LuLing’s actions? Is Ruth superstitious? Does she realize that she is manipulating her mother as a child?
     
  4. Why does Ruth try so hard to distance herself from her Chinese heritage?
     
  5. Why does Ruth lose her voice once a year on August 12th? In what way does Ruth "regain" her voice by the end of the novel?
     
  6. How does Ruth use her professional talents to her advantage? In what way does her job stifle her ability to communicate? Are there any inherent advantages of Ruth’s uncanny ability to "spin gold out of dross"?
     
  7. How is LuLing affected by the family curse? How does she react when she learns of her mother’s true identity? In your opinion, was it wrong for Precious Auntie to keep this secret from her daughter? Why does Precious Auntie keep this information from LuLing for so long?
     
  8. What is the significance of Ruth’s learning the family name at the end of The Bonesetter's Daughter? What does Ruth learn about her name that helps change her opinion of her mother?
     
  9. How does LuLing rebel against Precious Auntie? Is Ruth similar to LuLing in this respect? What are the consequences of Ruth’s insolence in her teenage years? Whose rebellion causes more lasting results?
     
  10. What does Ruth learn about her mother and about her own cultural heritage that helps to mend her strained relationship with Art, as well as with Fia and Dory?