Ties That Bind, Ties That Break

By . 3 CDs. 3:37 hrs. AudioGO. 2013. ISBN 978-1-62460-222-1. $39.95.
Gr 7 Up—Ailin , the third sister and final daughter in the wealthy Tao family, is so full of spirit that she refuses to submit to having her feet bound like her older sisters and nearly every other woman in her family going back for generations. When her engagement to a local family's young son is broken because of her "big feet," her father's support becomes more important than ever. In search of a respectable option for a high-born girl in 1911 Chinese society, her father sends her to public school run by foreign missionaries, where she shows a talent for languages. But when her father tragically dies and Big Uncle becomes head of the family, she's forced to choose between a nunnery, a peasant's life, or worse yet—becoming a concubine. With a courage fueled by grief, she forges her own path as nanny for a foreign family, eventually finding her way to America and a life she never dreamed possible. Emily Woo Zeller narrates Namioka's tale (Delacorte, 1999) of female triumph with lyricism and a strong grasp of character. She weaves in and out of the varying character voices with ease, making the title useful for whole group or individual listening. Written as a flashback, the story is perfect for middle grade listeners interested in Chinese culture. With a cursory allusion to the political changes in the country, younger listeners get a clear picture of the actual events happening during the time, but older students may want more thorough explorations into the role of women and the political climate at the beginning of the century.—Shanna Miles, South Atlanta Educational Complex, GA

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