Bone is a debut novel by author Fae Myenne Ng, who has published short stories in Harper’s and other magazines. In this novel, Leila Fu, the eldest of three daughters in a Chinese family narrates the story. Leila takes readers into the lives of her family and the other people living in the Chinatown area of San Francisco.
As the story unfolds, the reader learns about the many secrets the Fu family has—“the skeletons they have in their closet”—which is symbolic of the title of the novel, Bone. Leila has two sisters, Ona and Nina. While all three girls have the same mother, Mah, Leila has a different father. Leon, Mah’s current husband, is the father of Ona and Nina.
Leila takes readers through the various customs of the Chinese culture. She also reveals the culture clashes between old times and modern times, from living in China and living in America, and even from living in Chinatown or living outside of Chinatown in the San Francisco area.
The novel describes the trials and tribulations Leila’s family goes through, including the suicide of her sister Ona. As is the case with every family, Leila’s family has a certain dynamic, secrets, a way of handling and not handling things, cultural traditions and rituals—all of which unfold as Leila tells her story.