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Ties That Bind, Ties That Break


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About the Author

Lensey Namioka was born in Beijing and moved to the USA when she was a child. She is a full-time writer, living in Seattle with her family.


A wealthy girl growing up in early 20th-century Nanjing refuses to have her feet bound, severely limiting her choices in life. In a starred review, PW said, "With the force and intensity of a memoir, the novel chronicles a heroine who creates her own destiny through events as dramatic as they are credible, and weaves in just enough political history to help readers understand the turbulent climate." Ages 12-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Gr 7-10-A story set in early 20th-century Nanjing, China. The third daughter in her prosperous family, Tao Ailin is the only one who manages to evade the tradition of foot binding, and her unbound feet make her common in the eyes of relatives and friends. In fact, the marriage that had been arranged for her when she was four is canceled by the boy's mother for that reason. Fortunately, Ailin's father is sensitive to her indomitable spirit and curious intellect. Although girls' education at that time was typically limited to "family schools," he arranges for her to attend a school run by American Protestant missionaries. She proves to be a gifted student, but her hope that she might someday become a teacher of English is dashed when her father dies when she is 12. Her uncle then gives her three choices: to become a nun, a farmer's wife, or a concubine. Defying him, she leaves home to care for the two young children of American missionaries and eventually travels to San Francisco with them. There, she later marries an ambitious young restaurateur. Set against the backdrop of political unrest and social change, this novel provides a realistic window into turn-of-the-century Chinese culture. Namioka creates in Ailin an archetype of the young women who not only questioned their roles in an emerging society but also had the courage to create new ones. Great for recreational reading, this solid story will also work well in supplementing social-studies units.-Sylvia V. Meisner, Allen Middle School, Greensboro, NC Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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