Saturday, July 10, 2010

Bound by Donna Jo Napoli

“Tell us more, Xiu Mei.”

“He’s looking for a young woman who was at our own cave festival.”

“Really? I was at the cave festival.” Wei Ping smoothed her dress and sat up tall.

“I didn’t think the prince attended.”

“He didn’t. He heard about this woman from a man who sold him a golden shoe. Apparently, the woman lost it as she was leaving the festival.”

Xing-Xing (Shing-Shing), a young girl in ancient China, when woman were valued no more than livestock, is bound to a life of servitude by her wicked stepmother and stepsister. After her father dies she does all the chores around the house and works nonstop, cooking meals, emptying the chamber pot, hauling water from the pool to their cave, washing and scrubbing, hunting and looking after her stepsister who cannot walk because of her foot bindings, a gruesome tradition for girls of ancient China. When girls became women, and they were fit to be married, their feet were folded in half and bound by rope. Girls with small feet were thought to be prettier.

Xing-Xing’s stepmother lavished attention on her stepsister, and granted her every wish, like finding the best suitable husband. But she treated Xing-Xing no better than a slave. Xing-Xing wanted to be loved like her stepsister, but more than anything she wanted to be free of her labor and free of her stepmother and sister.

Bound follows the storyline of an old and well known fairy tale, Cinderella. Many books by Napoli are rewrites of cherished fairy tales. Others follow old Greek Legends (Siren) and interesting times in history. Napoli puts her own twist into each one.

4 Stars

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