Book Reviews of The Hundred Secret Senses

The Hundred Secret Senses
The Hundred Secret Senses
Author: Amy Tan
ISBN-13: 9780399141140
ISBN-10: 0399141146
Publication Date: 10/17/1995
Pages: 358
Rating:
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 123

3.9 stars, based on 123 ratings
Publisher: Putnam Pub Group (T)
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

58 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

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Helpful Score: 4
Tan's customary, illustrious writing fills this book with vivid characters that jump to life from the beginning. A sister, Kwan, arrives to the family and changes the life of the protagonist, Olivia, in profound ways, connecting her to a culture-rich history.

I read this ten years ago, yet Kwan remains one of my favorite literary characters to this day, residing with Catherine and Heathcliff.
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Helpful Score: 3
Although I really gave this book every chance I could, I found the lengthy descriptions distracting and realized I didn't really much care for the characters.
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Helpful Score: 3
I was not at all captivated by this book, which is unusual for an Amy Tan book. I've read her other works and I was sadly disappointed with this one. I thought the main character was self absorbed and not at all likable. I didn't sympathize with her or her "true Love". It was a bit confusing jumping into past lives and back again. I kept reading thinking that it would get better, but the ending was horrible. Yes, the main character reaches some sort redemption, however only through her sister Kwans sacrifices. I didn't care for this book, although others did.
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Helpful Score: 1
I'm almost embarassed to admit that I did not like this book as well as I loved bonesetters daughter and Joy luck club. I had a hard time getting into the story line of Kwan-li's past life and dream type world. I really did try and forced myself to read it till the end. I did enjoy the story regarding the sisters relationship though.
reviewed The Hundred Secret Senses on
Helpful Score: 1
What a wonderful book! Amy Tan has such a talent for taking you back into time, to other cultures. It actually feels like you are there and that you know the characters. There are such lessons to learn-from her modern day characters and her far back in time characters. One of those books where when you're done, you don't want to be done! You'll keep wishing you could go back and see what is going on with everyone you met in the book.
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Helpful Score: 1
Amy Tan sensitively draws the two main characters in this book, with all their vulnerabilities and blind spots. The reader is pulled into Kwan's "Yin World" so convincingly that in many ways it seems more "real" than the "real" world of her sister, Olivia ("Libby-ah"). This book truly enchants, and the story resolves elegantly. Beautifully written, compelling storytelling.
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Helpful Score: 1
Great story which gives one much to ponder. Magical and enlightening.
reviewed The Hundred Secret Senses on + 37 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Excellent story with a surprise ending.
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Helpful Score: 1
I love the way Amy Tan weaves so many stories together. I found this book fascinating.
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Helpful Score: 1
Somehow I missed this one when I initially devoured Amy Tan's work. It's great though, and maybe I should be glad that I prolonged the pleasure.

It reminded me a bit of Saving Fish from Drowning, which was actually written 10 years later, as both include ghosts and a bit of a magical realism feel.
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Explores the relationship of half-sisters. Also uses history to advance the story. Very good for book discussion clubs
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linking the present and the past...China and America...customs and cultures..childhood to marriage,,,
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A gentle writer of pleasant books.
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I found the story lines confusing.
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A coming of age book concerning the trials and tribulations of two half sisters.
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Keep reading when you start---it gets better.
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Once again, Tan delivers a novel with a horribly self-obsessed protagonist; the downfall of all of her books since the Joy Luck Club. Could have been so, so powerful if she had laid off the narrator cynicism.
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From School Library Journal: "Olivia, the narrator of this story, was born to an American mother and a Chinese father. She meets her 18-year-old Chinese half sister, Kwan, for the first time shortly after their father's death. Kwan adores "Libby-ah" and tries to introduce her to her Chinese heritage through stories and memories. Olivia is embarrassed by her sibling, but finds as she matures that she has inadvertently absorbed much about Chinese superstitions, spirits, and reincarnation. Olivia explains, "My sister Kwan believes she has Yin eyes. She sees those who have died and now dwell in the World of Yin..." Now in her mid-30s, Olivia, a photographer, is still seeking a meaningful life. The climax of the story comes when she and her estranged husband Simeon, a writer, go to China on assignment with Kwan as the interpreter. In the village in which she grew up, Kwan returns to the world of Yin, her mission completed. Olivia finally learns what Kwan was trying to show her: "If people we love die, then they are lost only to our ordinary senses. If we remember, we can find them anytime with our hundred secret senses." The meshing of the contemporary story of Olivia and the tales Kwan tells of her past life in late-19th century China may confuse some readers. Although this story is different from Tan's previous novels because of the supernatural twist, you will find some familiar elements." Carol Clark, R. E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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A novel addressing identity (ethnic and otherwise), relations as a couple, a visit to China, a ghost. Recommend.
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Honestly, I didn't finish this book but I've read great reviews of it and Amy Tan fans think it is one of her best.
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A modern story infused with folk tales.
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A wonderful combination of today and yesterday. Tan is a great storyteller.
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This is the fourth Tan book I've read, and I think this may be the best. The tie-in between past and present was intriguing, and the details, as always, are wonderful
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"Truly Magical . . . Unforgettable . . . The first-person narrator is Olivia Laguni, and her unrelenting nemesis from childhood on is her half-sister, Kwan Li . . . It is Kwan's haunting predictions, her implementation of the secret senses, and her linking of the present with the past that cause this novel to shimmer with meaning - and to leave it in the reader's mind when the book has long been finished." -- The San Diego Tribune
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great book by a great author.
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5 stars - Olivia, the narrator of this story, was born to an American mother and a Chinese

father. She meets her 18-year-old Chinese half sister, Kwan, for the first time shortly

after their father's death. Kwan adores "Libby-ah" and tries to introduce her to her Chinese

heritage through stories and memories. Olivia is embarrassed by her sibling, but finds as

she matures that she has inadvertently absorbed much about Chinese superstitions, spirits,

and reincarnation. Olivia explains, "My sister Kwan believes she has Yin eyes. She sees

those who have died and now dwell in the World of Yin..." Now in her mid-30s, Olivia, a

photographer, is still seeking a meaningful life. The climax of the story comes when she and

her estranged husband Simeon, a writer, go to China on assignment with Kwan as the

interpreter. In the village in which she grew up, Kwan returns to the world of Yin, her

mission completed. Olivia finally learns what Kwan was trying to show her: "If people we

love die, then they are lost only to our ordinary senses. If we remember, we can find them

anytime with our hundred secret senses." This story is different from Tan's previous novels

because of the supernatural twist.
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Amy Tan, author of the Kitchen God's wife and the Joy Luck Club, wrote this novel of the relationship between a chinese-american woman and her chinese sister that I think may be her best book so far.
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The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan is as captivating as any of Amy Tan's works including The Kitchen God's Wife and The Bonesetter's Daughter.

Kwan enters Olivia's life in an unexpected way when Olivia's father dies and his daughter from his first marriage comes to live with them in America. Five-year-old Olivia would have preferred a new turtle or a doll; instead she got an older half-sister. Seeing Kwan at the airport Olivia thought she looked like a chubby old lady with braids dressed in pajamas bellowing a loud "Hall-ooo!" Kwan is a built-in embarrassment. She's awkwardly unfamiliar with American culture. She's tactless, loud, talkative, and annoyingly upbeat. She's the crazy relative you don't want anyone to know about. But she's also very tolerant and kind with the more self-absorbed Olivia. In her endless prattle, Kwan tells Olivia about Chinese superstitions and ghost stories. She explains to Libby (Kwan can't pronounce her name right, so calls her Libby-ah) that she has "yin eyes" and can see ghosts.

As an adult, Olivia has listened to Kwan's tales all her life and she's tired of them. She has very little patience for Kwan and acknowledges that she never does anything with Kwan unless it's out of guilt. Besides, she has her own worries with her marriage unraveling. But Kwan is ever eager to help in her own way. In an effort to bring the two back together, Kwan plans a trip for the three of them to China. There the "ghost stories" come to life in tales that alternate between past and present.
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Great audio book. Recorded by Amy Tan.
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really a beautiful read, original, thought-provoking. Get lost in a good book type reading :)
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Incredible book, incredible story...I didn't love Amy Tan's (own) narration, but that was ok. This is my second favorite Amy Tan, The Bonesetter'd Daughter being my all time favorite.
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A book about love and frienship between an Asian woman who says she can see and speaks to those who have passed away and her sister.
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As always Any Tan's characters draw you and and make you part of the story.
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I was not a big fan of this book. I did not think that it was written very well and it was not an exciting read. Usually I pass books onto my mom when I am done with them but I am not going to waste her time with this one. It was not horrible but it was not great either.
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Very good book. Gives you a new perspective about certain aspects of life. The main character, Kwan would take you on a journey that will sometimes amaze you and others leave you confused. At the end you will realize all her stories have a lesson about life, about death, and what is really important for her, what you take in or learn from each of them.
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"The Hundred Secret Senses" is a story about a young woman and her half-sister, who she has always had problems with. Her sister gives predictions, and uses the secret senses. It is a book about the present and the past.

Very good read, nice characterization and wonderfully written.
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Not my favorite Amy Tan book, that's still "Kitchen God's Wife", but interesting nonetheless in learning cross cultural beliefs. Tan always keeps the chracters interesting and, as usual, pokes fun at them.
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When I read Amy Tan, I have such a greater understanding of life. She is able to show me obstacles in a way that makes me examine my own heart. What a very special author.
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once again Amy Tan writes a beautiful about Asain society.
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YA?Olivia, the narrator of this story, was born to an American mother and a Chinese father. She meets her 18-year-old Chinese half sister, Kwan, for the first time shortly after their father's death. Kwan adores "Libby-ah" and tries to introduce her to her Chinese heritage through stories and memories. Olivia is embarrassed by her sibling, but finds as she matures that she has inadvertently absorbed much about Chinese superstitions, spirits, and reincarnation. Olivia explains, "My sister Kwan believes she has Yin eyes. She sees those who have died and now dwell in the World of Yin..." Now in her mid-30s, Olivia, a photographer, is still seeking a meaningful life. The climax of the story comes when she and her estranged husband Simeon, a writer, go to China on assignment with Kwan as the interpreter. In the village in which she grew up, Kwan returns to the world of Yin, her mission completed. Olivia finally learns what Kwan was trying to show her: "If people we love die, then they are lost only to our ordinary senses. If we remember, we can find them anytime with our hundred secret senses." The meshing of the contemporary story of Olivia and the tales Kwan tells of her past life in late-19th century China may confuse some readers. Although this story is different from Tan's previous novels because of the supernatural twist, YAs will find some familiar elements
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One of my all-time favorite books.
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Might make my all-time top ten list.
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The second book I've read by Tan and it did not let me down. It was a wonderful story about family ties and trials. It takes you back to the past and mystery and myths. I loved it.
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Amy Tan cannot write a bad book. I've read most or all of them and never been disappointed. Her characters live.
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My cousin gave me this a few years ago and I finally got around to reading it. It was a really good book. The story line takes you back and forth from Olivia and Kwan's current life to their past lives. It kept me interested to the end. I can't wait to read some of Amy Tan's other novels.
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Another Amy Tan winner!
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Amy Tan is one of my favorite modern authors. This book is great story-telling.
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I always cry while reading Amy Tan books
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A good novel.
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If you like other Amy Tan's, you will like this book!
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Tan at her best.
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This book changed my life.
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This was a wonderful book, probably the best of her's that I've read yet.
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Magical & Beautiful read!
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This is a classic. Great story telling. Great sense of family and history. Provides an excellent incite into Asian culture.
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Didn't like.
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A magical book. The first person narrator is Olivia Lagani and her unrelenting nemesis from childhood is her half sister Kwan Li....it is Kwan's haunting predictions, her implementation of the secret senses, her linking of the present with the past that causes this novel to shimmer with meaning-and to leave it in the reader's mind when the book has long been finished.
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This particular book smells of cigarette smoke. I do not smoke it was this way when I got it. I will spray my lavender love products on it to try to get the smell to go away.