Monday, August 10, 2009

Book Review: Bound, Pt. 1

Now that it's August, I desperately trying to finish all the books that I've started earlier this summer. I'm almost done with Life on the Color Line; The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black by Gregory H. Williams and about halfway through The Asian Mystique by Sheridan Prasso. But I also need to make sure my kids finish THEIR summer reading, too.

This year, Donna Jo Napoli will visit their school so they each must read one of her books. Luckily, she writes for all ages, from picture books through young adult, and she provides great variety in her works. In solidarity, I decided to read one of her books and picked up Bound, because I can't resist anything Asian. Ms. Napoli tells a Chinese Cinderella story, complete with cruel stepmother, pitiable stepsister and charming prince.

What I really love about her telling of the story is all of the Chinese traditions she has woven into the story. While it's heart-breaking to relive the foot-binding tradition (and can make my stomach turn at times), it is the reality of these traditions that give the story a rich depth which doesn't always happen in young adult novels.

Another point I appreciate about this book is how the heroine Xing Xing (pronounced "Shing Shing") carries the spirits of her deceased mother and father with her wherever she goes, as a guiding spirit to provide Xing Xing with wisdom. Ms. Napoli writes with such respect and sensitivity for the Chinese culture - it's truly palpable.

I highly recommend this book as Donna Jo Napoli’s writing proves that depth of character and plot CAN be found in young adult novels.

Has anyone else read her works?

(Stay tuned for Pt. 2 - where I make parallels between Xing Xing and myself.)

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