Ties That Bind, Ties That Break

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9780141317151: Ties That Bind, Ties That Break

Set in China in 1900s the story of a young girl who defied tradition by refusing to have her feet bound and in doing so changed the course of her life forever.

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It's 1911, and China is slowly beginning to accept modern ideas--but the changes may not happen fast enough for young Ailin. Her grandmother has decided it's time she has her feet bound, to make her more attractive to a future husband. When Ailin sees the sad state of her sister's feet, she is stunned. "I stared at the pitiful stumps at the end of Second Sister's legs... her foot had been squeezed into a wedge: the big toe had been left undeformed, but the rest of the foot... had been forced down under the sole... like a piece of bread folded over." Luckily, Ailin's progressive father allows her to keep her feet unfettered, even though it means breaking off her prearranged marriage into a more traditional family. He also sends her to a public school to learn English. But by the time Ailin is in her teens, her father has died, leaving her less tolerant Big Uncle to be the head of the family. Big Uncle forbids Ailin's schooling and gives her the choice of either being a nun or a peasant's wife--the only alternatives left for an unmarried Chinese woman with "big feet." Ailin refuses both options, and instead becomes a nanny for an American missionary couple. Due to their generosity, Ailin starts a new life in the United States.

Powerfully told in flashback, Ties that Bind, Ties that Break is a thoughtful exploration of the ways cultural pressures can bend not only our personal values but even our physical appearance. And this gripping, lyrical story's theme may be most meaningful to those teens who feel the need to pierce and tattoo their bodies in order to fit into contemporary adolescent society. (Ages 11 to 14) --Jennifer Hubert

From the Inside Flap:

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.

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