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The Bonesetter's Daughter (Ballantine Reader's Circle)

by

The Bonesetter's Daughter (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Cover

 

 

Reading Group Guide

1. Bones constitute an important motif in The Bonesetters Daughter. What is the significance of the books title? How does breaking a bone change Ruths life and her relationship with her mother? What importance do bones hold for LuLing and Precious Auntie?

2.Each year, Ruth makes a conscious decision not to speak for one week. Why does she elect to go silent? In which ways does this self-imposed muteness mirror the challenges faced by both her mother and by Precious Auntie? How does Ruth find her voice as the novel goes on?

3.From childhood onward, Ruth is locked in a constant struggle with her mother. In which ways does her behavior echo LuLings rebellion against her own mother? How do these conflicts have violent consequences, both physical and emotional?

4.To frame the novel, Tan uses the device of a story within a story. How is this effective in bringing past and present together?

5.How does LuLing come to life in her own words, and how is that vantage point different from Ruths point of view? How is the LuLing that springs to life in her manuscript different from the figure Ruth grapples with on a regular basis?

6.LuLing begins her story, “These are the things I must not forget.” Why is she so adamant about remembering-and honoring- what has come before? In contrast, what is Precious Aunties attitude toward the past? In which ways does she recast prior events, thus concealing the truth from LuLing? How does Ruth grapple with what she uncovers about the history of her family, and what it means for her future?

7.Ruth is shocked to learn that her aunt, GaoLing, is not her mothers real sister. How does the relationship between the two women defy the adage that blood is thicker than water?

8.How does the dynamic between LuLing and GaoLing evolve as the book unfolds? What emotions does LuLing feel most strongly toward GaoLing, and vice versa? Why?

9.Although GaoLing speaks English fluently, by contrast, LuLing never learns to communicate effectively in the language, instead relying on Ruth to be her mouthpiece. How is the spoken word depicted in this novel? Is it more or less important than the written word? How does LuLing communicate in other ways-for example, artistically?

10.How does the concept of destiny shape the lives of both Precious Auntie and LuLing? How does each woman fight against the strictures of fate? In the modern world, does destiny hold as much weight? Why or why not?

11.Both Precious Auntie and LuLing lose love in tragic ways. How is romantic love depicted in The Bonesetters Daughter? How does Ruths concept of love differ from that of her grandmothers and mothers? Does LuLings conception of love evolve over time?

12.LuLing is introduced to Western ideas and religion while living and working in an American-run orphanage. How does she reconcile these different ideologies with the beliefs she holds? Does her belief in her familys curse fade or blossom within the confines of a different societal framework?

13.How does LuLing forge a new life for herself in America? In which ways does she remain constrained by the past, and in which ways does she triumph over it?

14.Which of GaoLings characteristics enable her to adjust to America with more ease than her sister? Which make it more difficult?

15.“Orchids look delicate but thrive on neglect.” In which way does this idle musing by Ruth apply to the other relationships in the novel, including her own with Art and his children?

16.Ruth has lived with the specter of Precious Auntie her entire life. How does her mothers obsession with Precious Auntie affect Ruth? Do you view Precious Aunties presence next to Ruth in the last scene of the book as a figurative or a literal one? Why?

17.Based on her manuscript alone, the translator of LuLings story becomes fascinated with her. What about her story, in your opinion, is so alluring and transcendent? How does her fading mind open her to new experiences?

18.As LuLing loses her memory, how does her story become more clear to Ruth? How does Tan explore the transience of memory in The Bonesetters Daughter?

19.Ruth works as a successful ghostwriter. How is this profession significant, both literally and figuratively, in her communication with her mother and with the world around her? How has her professional life opened Ruth to the world around her, and how has it shut her off?

20.What significance do names and their nuances have in The Bonesetters Daughter? Why is it so important that Ruth discover her familys true name? When Ruth discovers what her own name means, how does that realization change her relationship with Lu-Ling?

Product Details

ISBN:
9780345457370
Editor:
Miller, Nancy
Author:
Miller, Nancy
Author:
Tan, Amy
Author:
Various
Publisher:
Ballantine Books
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
Women
Subject:
China
Subject:
Mothers and daughters
Subject:
Women immigrants
Subject:
Chinese American families
Subject:
Chinese American women
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Ballantine Reader's Circle
Series Volume:
v. 1
Publication Date:
20030231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
400
Dimensions:
8.29x5.50x.89 in. .70 lbs.

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Related Subjects

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
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The Bonesetter's Daughter (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.95 In Stock
Product details 400 pages Ballantine Books - English 9780345457370 Reviews:
"Review" by , "The Bonesetter?s Daughter dramatically chronicles the tortured, devoted relationship between LuLing Young and her daughter Ruth....A strong novel, filled with idiosyncratic, sympathetic characters, haunting images, historical complexity, significant contemporary themes, and suspenseful mystery."
"Review" by , "Tan at her best....Rich and hauntingly forlorn...the writing is so exacting and unique in its detail."
"Review" by , "For Tan, the true keeper of memory is language, and so the novel is layered with stories that have been written down?by mothers for their daughters, passing along secrets that cannot be said out loud but must not be forgotten."
"Review" by , "In its rich character portrayals and sensitivity to the nuances of mother-daughter relationships, Tan's new novel is the real successor to, and equal of, The Joy Luck Club....The novel exhibits a poignant clarity as it investigates the dilemma of adult children who must become caretakers of their elderly parents, a situation Tan articulates with integrity and exemplary empathy for both generations."
"Review" by , "[An] absorbing tale of the mother-dauthter bond....This book sing[s] with emotion and insight."
"Synopsis" by , The Bonesetter’s Daughter dramatically chronicles the tortured, devoted relationship between LuLing Young and her daughter Ruth. . . . A strong novel, filled with idiosyncratic, sympathetic characters, haunting images, historical complexity, significant contemporary themes, and suspenseful mystery.”

Los Angeles Times

“TAN AT HER BEST . . . Rich and hauntingly forlorn . . . The writing is so exacting and unique in its detail.”

San Francisco Chronicle

“For Tan, the true keeper of memory is language, and so the novel is layered with stories that have been written down–by mothers for their daughters, passing along secrets that cannot be said out loud but must not be forgotten.”

The New York Times Book Review

“AMY TAN [HAS] DONE IT AGAIN. . . . The Bonesetter’s Daughter tells a compelling tale of family relationships; it layers and stirs themes of secrets, ambiguous meanings, cultural complexity and self-identity; and it resonates with metaphor and symbol.”

The Denver Post

From the Paperback edition.

"Synopsis" by , Tan's phenomenal #1 national bestseller is now available in trade paperback. "A compelling tale of family relationships; it layers and stirs themes of secrets, ambiguous meanings, cultural complexity, and self-identity; and it resonates with metaphor and symbol."--"The Denver Post."
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