Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Book Review: Ties That Bind, Ties That Break

Continuing in my quest for books for a middle-school literature circle, I read Lensey Namioka's Ties That Bind, Ties that Break as suggested by KB at The Brain Lair. I loved this book about one girl's quest to end foot-binding in her family. Ailin is the third daughter in a middle-class family in China in the early 1900s. Like all young girls of her class, she is expected to have tiny bound feet and marry the right husband. But after seeing her sister's useless feet and watching women hobbling around for their whole lives, Ailin snaps and refuses. Fortunately, her father and grandmother have a soft spot for Ailin, and they allow her to go unbound. The decision results in a series of events that ultimately lead Ailin to America.

I find the subject of foot-binding fascinating. I think my fascination started with a biography of missionary Gladys Aylward and continued with Snowflower and the Secret Fan. What a bizarre practice. I love that this book tells the story from the perspective of a child. (One thing I didn't like about the book was the voice of young Ailin. The conversation between 5-year-old Ailin and her 7-year-old betrothed was just silly. Little girls don't talk like that.)

My preteen daughter is reading this right now and likes it. I'm not sure that I'll use this for my literature circle because it is really a "girl" book. I'm not sure the young men in my class would find this very interesting. But for girls ages 10 and up, I highly recommend it.


crochet lady said...

That sounds like a great book. You mentioned one of my favorite people - Gladys Alyward. She is on my hero list.

Anonymous said...

I just finished The Great Wide Sea by Madaline Herlong. If you're looking for young adult literature that will also reel in boys, give this one a try. I highly recommend it.