Her grandmother had a name. Gu Liu Xin. She had existed. She still existed. Precious Auntie belonged to a family. LuLing belonged to that same family, and Ruth belonged to them both.

This quotation comes from the very end of the novel when Ruth finally learns the true name of her maternal grandmother. The quotation reveals how Ruth feels complete now that she has learned the history of her mother and grandmother. By uncovering her grandmother’s name, Ruth feels a true connection with her, a proof of her existence beyond the tales in her mother’s manuscript. Ruth also ensures that her grandmother’s memory will live on and that Precious Auntie will be remembered in a more complex way. She was not simply a scarred nursemaid but a woman with her own history, secrets, strength, and desires.

Precious Auntie’s name is also significant in that in reflects her family’s profession as bonesetters. “Gu” is both the family’s surname and the Chinese word for “bone,” which demonstrates how intrinsic the family profession and history is to each family member’s identity. Bones can break, but they can also heal. Precious Auntie and LuLing demonstrated this by surviving loss and grief, and Ruth sees now that she also possesses the strength of her female ancestors. Ruth also learns that she comes from a lineage of bonesetting skills that have now vanished from the family history, and Ruth wants to commemorate and honor those traditions. Because she knows the true stories of her mother and grandmother, Ruth can see how they have influenced and impacted her. When Ruth thinks that Precious Auntie “still existed,” she does not mean this literally. Rather, she means that Ruth can see aspects of her grandmother in herself, and that she will ensure that her story and memory is passed along for future generations.