An urgent message for help and a family picture found in a department-store purse connect two girls, one in China, the other in the United States, and set in motion a life-saving journey.
When Clara, a 12-year-old white girl grieving the death of her older sister, Lola, finds the note and picture, she instantly recognizes where the picture was taken: at Molihua Park in Shanghai, where Lola, adopted from China, was found as a baby. After being kidnapped and forced to work illegally in a purse factory, 13-year-old Yuming, a Chinese girl from Yemo Village, writes the note and hides it in a purse bound for America. She gives smart clues to her whereabouts: “pale pink factory” and “outside of Beijing.” Inspired by these clues and ever present visions of Lola encouraging her, Clara feels compelled to help Yuming and convinces her parents to return to China. Meanwhile, after six weeks without a rescue, Yuming and fellow captives Jing, Kai, and Li attempt a daring escape. Told in alternating viewpoints, the two girls’ connection to each other compels and intrigues, even though the note’s discovery feels wholly arbitrary. Nonetheless, Clara and Yuming are strong, vulnerable girls whose two lives run in parallel: Clara searches for Yuming, while Yuming longs for Bolin, her estranged brother; Clara grieves Lola, while Yuming grieves for her grandparents and remembers their wisdom.
A courageous story filled with hope. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)