YOUNG XING XING IS BOUND.
Bound to her father's second wife and daughter after Xing Xing's father has passed away. Bound to a life of servitude as a young girl in ancient China, where the life of a woman is valued less than that of livestock. Bound to be alone and unmarried, with no parents to arrange for a suitable husband. Dubbed "Lazy One" by her stepmother, Xing Xing spends her days taking care of her half sister, Wei Ping, who cannot walk because of her foot bindings, the painful but compulsory tradition for girls who are fit to be married. Even so, Xing Xing is content, for now, to practice her gift for poetry and calligraphy, to tend to the mysterious but beautiful carp in her garden, and to dream of a life unbound by the laws of family and society.
But all of this is about to change as the time for the village's annual festival draws near, and Stepmother, who has spent nearly all of the family's money, grows desperate to find a husband for Wei Ping. Xing Xing soon realizes that this greed and desperation may threaten not only her memories of the past, but also her dreams for the future.
In this searing story, Donna Jo Napoli, acclaimed author of Beast and Breath, delves into the roots of the Cinderella myth and unearths a tale as powerful as it is familiar.
Napoli (The Magic Circle) takes the Cinderella story back to its roots in China, where the search for the right foot to fit the symbolic glass slipper takes on new meaning. The author sets the tale during the 14th-century reign of Emperor Hung-wu, when it was customary to bind girls' feet in order to make them more attractive as marriage prospects. While remaining true to the fairytale elements, Napoli endows each character here with three dimensions: the stepmother, for instance, is the number two wife of a recently deceased master potter, so she, understandably, puts her own daughter's welfare ahead of that of her stepdaughter, Xing Xing. The girl bears no ill will toward her stepsister, Wei Ping, but rather feels compassion for her as Wei Ping goes through the painful process of foot-binding. Through Napoli's masterly third-person narrative, told from Xing Xing's perspective, readers acquire an understanding of the events right along with the heroine. The author incorporates spiritual beliefs when a blind raccoon kit ("What terrible thing could a person do in one life to make it come back as a blind raccoon kit?" Xing Xing wonders) wounds Wei Ping, and a beautiful, gentle carp seems to watch over Xing Xing as she journeys to find a remedy for her stepsister. Even the form the godmother takes here is smoothly integrated into Xing Xing's spiritual journey. Napoli manages to grant Xing Xing an independence that remains authentic to her time, and creates both an adventure and a coming-of-age story that will have readers racing to the finish. Ages 12-up.
Customer ReviewsSee All
This is a great book, it's very different from what the average Cinderella story yet the same. This book is also keeps you're attention. I applaud the author on this book.