By Donna Jo Napoli
From Inside Cover:
Young Xing Xing is bound.
Bound to her father's second wife and daughter after Xing Xing's father has passed away. Bound to a life of servitude as a young girl in ancient China, where the life of a woman is valued less than livestock. Bound to be alone and unmarried, with no parents to arrange for a suitable husband. Dubbed "Lazy One" by her stepmother, Xing Xing spends her days taking care of her half sister, Wei Ping, who can't walk because of her foot bindings, the painful but compulsory tradition for girls who are fit to be married. Even so, Xing Xing is content, for now, to practice her gift of poetry and calligraphy, to tend to the mysterious but beautiful carp in her garden, and to dream of a life unbound by laws of family and society. But all of this is about to change as the time for the village's annual festival draws near, and Stepmother, who has spent nearly all of the family's money, grows desperate to find a husband for Wei Ping. Xing Xing soon realizes that this greed and desperation may threaten not only her memories of the past, but also dreams for the future.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked this up off the shelf. The beautiful cover has always jumped out at me and the inside flap made it sound like a promising read. I wasn't disappointed. It was a wonderful story. Xing Xing is an amazing character that has been dealt a difficult hand and she plays it to the best of her ability. She is born into a country that doesn't offer alot of opportunities to a girl in general, she is then orphaned and life now seems impossible. But Xing Xing has determination and smarts. Chinese traditions and customs weave in and out of this tale and the Cinderella element makes it feel familiar yet the story stands on it's own.
I will definitely be looking for more titles by this author. I recommend this book for readers 12 and up. This book is available to check out at the Salmon Public Library.