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Ties That Bind, Ties That Break by Lensey…
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Ties That Bind, Ties That Break (1999)

by Lensey Namioka

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Booktalk: I’d like you to think about . . . your feet. What do they look like? Are they big feet? Are they small feet? Are they wide? Narrow?
Now that you have a picture of your feet in your heads, imagine that the kind of person you can marry depends on what your feet look like. Imagine that you could become a social outcast because of what your feet look like. Imagine that the only choices you had in life were to become a nun, a concubine, or a farmer’s wife because of what your feet look like.

In China, for many centuries, if you were a woman, it did matter what your feet looked like. Little girls had their feet bound, wrapped tightly in strips of cloth, and it resulted in deformed feet, tiny wedges upon which they tottered. Why? Because a woman with bound feet was guaranteed a good husband.

But in 1911, change was taking place in China. There was talk of a revolution, new ideas. Alinn is already 5 years old and her feet have yet to be bound. This worries the women in the family because a good marriage has been arranged for Alinn, and her future mother-in-law wants to know why her feet are not yet bound. But when Alinn’s mother and grandmother forcefully bind her feet, she screams and fights so violently that her father stops them from doing it. Four months later, Alinn’s future mother-in-law cancels the engagement to her son.

What good could possibly come of a woman with unbound feet? Find out in TIES THAT BIND... ( )
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
Ailin bucks a thousand years of Chinese tradition when she refuses to get her feet bound at age 4 like all young, respectable women of her day are expected to do. It is the mid 1900's, and women with bound feet are considered beautiful and it is necessary in order for them to have good marriage prospects. However, because of this decision, Ailin's life is ruined in her family's eyes as her future mother in law has called off her future marriage, and there are no prospects for a girl with "big feet." However, Ailin has more than big feet, she has a mind of her own. Lensey Namioka tells the story of a young Chinese girl not bound by tradition, and who is willing to leave everything behind in order to be true to her own self. ( )
  ShouldIReadIt | Sep 26, 2014 |
In China in 1911, Ailin resists tradition and pressure from her family by refusing to have her feet bound to make her more attractive for her future husband. Her act of defiance alters her life forever.
  KilmerMSLibrary | Apr 30, 2013 |
BBYA Top 10 2000; RGG: Interesting story about a young girl in 1920's-30's China, who rebels against foot binding, and the independence that brings her.
  rgruberexcel | Sep 4, 2012 |
This is a wonderful book about the struggles a daughter had to endure when she refuses ti go through with the practice of foot binding. This is a book everybody should read because it does also tell a story of triumphing over obstacles. It was a quick read for me in under 24 hours but that doesn't make it any less meaningful. Pick it up and read it. ( )
  midkid88 | Apr 11, 2012 |
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To the memory of my mother, whose name, Buwei, means "Giant Step," because she was one of the earliest to have unbound feet.
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I found it hard to manage my high-heeled shoes without tripping or twisting my ankle.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0440415993, Mass Market Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:47 -0400)

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Ailin's life takes a different turn when she defies the traditions of upper class Chinese society by refusing to have her feet bound.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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