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Publisher's Summary

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.
©1999 Lensey Namioka (P)2013 AudioGO
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Critic Reviews

"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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Gracie on 01-26-15


This book was honestly the best book I've ever read! The detail of the characters and their feelings was exquisite! I hope to read more books just like this one!

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4 out of 5 stars
By Teri W on 05-22-14

Fascinating story

What did you love best about Ties That Bind, Ties That Break?

Fascinating story about how one girl managed to avoid having her feet bound. Explains the background of the custom, and why it became important, as well as how she avoided it and how that choice influenced her life. Once you start, you won't want to quit until it's over.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Tradition - it's not for everyone.

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