book 3 of 10 for the Orbis Terrarum Challenge
genre: young adult
The tale of Third Sister, Ailin, begins in turn of the century China. Even at the age of five, Ailin knows that having her feet bound will not give her the kind of life she wants – she’d no longer be free to run and play. As a coming of age story, we get to experience China first-hand as Ailin grows older and begins to suffer the consequences of her decision. With her family against her, Ailin has to find the courage to stand up to traditional Chinese culture and find her own way to be a woman.
Ties that Bind, Ties that Break reads like a simple memoir, although it is fiction. The first person narrative is certainly readable and could probably be enjoyed by readers ages 10 and up. For me, it was a bit too simple. Characters didn’t have enough time or energy devoted to them for fleshing out, although you get a good sense of the main character and the way she thinks about things. For young adults that are interested in more modern China, especially in the foot binding practice, they would probably find this an interesting read. The time period is interesting and you do get a sense of the lives of upper class Chinese and the traditional way of life. It just didn’t have enough meat for me.