A Chinese legend says that a red thread connects those destined to meet and that the thread may stretch or become tangled but will never break.
Growing up in a Chinese orphanage after being abandoned by her family, Wen feels a connection like that with her best friend, Shu Ling, another orphan. Eventually, Wen is adopted by an American family, but the prospect for Shu Ling is grim: She has a deformed foot. Before Wen leaves for America she promises she will find a family for Shu Ling—imagining that her adoptive family can take her, too. Although her new family is loving and kind, Wen can’t forget her promise, and neither, after her earlier abandonment, can she fully trust the Americans, leaving her in believable emotional turmoil. She tries a variety of determined strategies to find a home for Shu Ling after it becomes clear her family can’t afford another adoption. Raising the suspense, Wen learns that Shu Ling will soon age out, becoming legally unavailable for adoption. Wen’s palpable growth—as she begins to understand American ways and the dynamics of her family, works on Shu Ling’s cause and recognizes other red-thread connections in her life—provides a moving and engaging experience for readers.
A fine addition to both the coming-of-age genre and books sensitively dealing with cross-cultural adoption. (Fiction. 9-14)