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Spilled Water

By Sally Grindley

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Format: Paperback, 224 pages, Export ed Edition
Published In: United Kingdom, 02 August 2004
When her husband dies, Lu Si-yan's mother is encouraged to sell her young daughter into domestic service. Lu Si-yan is just eleven when sold by her Uncle. Nearly two years will pass before she can get back home to her mother and brother. In this powerful and compelling novel Sally Grindley portrays the life of a young girl in China, a young girl whose life is said to be like 'spilled water' - a waste. With a brilliant first-person narrative and a powerful description of time and place, this novel is gripping, heart-wrenching and utterly mesmerising.

About the Author

Sally Grindley lives in Cheltenham and has worked in children's books all her career - first as an editor for Books for Children book club and now as a full-time writer. Sally is the author of many outstanding picture books for young readers and this is her second novel. Her first novel, FEATHER WARS was published by Bloomsbury. Sally travelled to China to research SPILLED WATER.


Gr 4-7-In this bleak story set in modern China, 11-year-old Lu Si-yan's world falls apart when her father is suddenly killed. Although she and her mother manage to scrape a living from the soil, disaster follows disaster until one day her uncle tells her it is time to find her "own way in the muddy whirlpool of life." He sells her to a family to be their maid and eventually marry their handsome, but childlike son. After many months of emotional abuse and exhausting work, she escapes with the help of the family's grandmother, who is horrified at the treatment Lu Si-yan is receiving at the hands of her daughter-in-law. The girl's money is stolen, and she ends up working in a toy factory where the hours are long and the pay minuscule. Eventually she becomes ill, and through a series of unbelievably fortuitous events, her uncle comes to her rescue. Though much of the story rings true, the behavior of the uncle is problematic. It is unclear why he sells his niece in the first place when she is the one who takes care of her young brother and keeps her mother going. And one must wonder why he would rescue her after her mother's death. Though Grindley attempts to show motivation, it is unconvincing. Still, the book provides an interesting look at the issues of domestic slavery and the exploitation of factory workers that plague many parts of the world today.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Grindley's (No Trouble at All) debut novel centers on narrator Lu Si-yan, whose humble yet happy life with her parents and younger brother in rural China is shattered by her father's sudden death. The novel begins as Si-yan's Uncle takes her on a mysterious trip, and the early chapters alternate with flashbacks to the days before and immediately following her father's death. In their grief, the family struggles to survive: their roof collapses, the vegetables Si-yan and her mother hope to sell at market are ruined when their rickshaw overturns and a drought causes their crops to wilt. Readers soon learn the destination of the mystery trip: Si-yan's uncle sells the 11-year-old into servitude, to help repay the family's debts. The child, likened to worthless "spilled water," becomes the property of a wealthy man in a smog-shrouded city who expects Si-yan to serve his family until she is old enough to marry his brain-damaged son. Much of the narrative labors to emphasize the low status of girls and women in society. The heroine's grueling days in her master's hapless household (brightened by the presence of a kind grandmother, who helps the girl escape) precedes an equally gloomy account of her life as an exploited factory worker, a job she hopes will enable her to return home with money for her mother. Though some poignant scenes give the narrative a lift, many readers will find this a rather plodding, tragic tale. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

EAN: 9780747574361
ISBN: 0747574367
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.9 x 1.7 centimetres (0.20 kg)

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