Third Sister in the Tao family, Ailin has watched her two older sisters go through the painful process of having their feet bound. In China in 1911, all the women of good families follow this ancient tradition. But Ailin loves to run away from her governess and play games with her male cousins. Knowing she will never run again once her feet are bound, Ailin rebels and refuses to follow this torturous tradition. As a result, however, the family of her intended husband breaks their marriage agreement. And as she enters adolescence, Ailin finds that her family is no longer willing to support her.
Chinese society leaves few options for a single woman of good family, but with a bold conviction and an indomitable spirit, Ailin is determined to forge her own destiny. Her story is a tribute to all those women whose courage created new options for the generations who came after them.
"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." (Publishers Weekly)
"Ailin’s reminiscences, used as narration, are simple and straightforward, and the discussions of foot-binding are startlingly effective." (VOYA)
"Set against the backdrop of political unrest and social change, this novel provides a realistic window into turn-of-the-century Chinese culture.... Great for recreational reading, this solid story will also work well in supplementing social-studies units." (School Library Journal)
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- Ruth Bain