LYDDIE

Abandoned by their mother, whose mental stability has been crumbling since her husband went west, Lyddie and her brother Charlie manage alone through a Vermont winter. But in the spring of 1844, without consulting them, the mother apprentices Charlie to a miller and hires Lyddie out to a tavern, where she is little better than a slave. Still, Lyddie is strong and indomitable, and the cook is friendly even if the mistress is cold and stern; Lyddie manages well enough until a run-in with the mistress sends her south to work in the mills of Lowell, Massachusetts, thus earning a better wage (in a vain hope of saving the family farm), making friends among the other girls enduring the long hours and dangerous conditions, and expanding her understanding of loyalty, generosity, and injustice (she already knows more than most people ever learn about perseverance). Knowing only her own troubled family, Lyddie is unusually reserved, even for a New Englander, With her usual discernment and consummate skill, Paterson depicts her gradually turning toward the warmth of others' kindnesses—Betsy reads Oliver Twist aloud and suggests the ultimate goal of Oberlin College; Diana teaches Lyddie to cope in the mill, setting an example that Lyddie later follows with an Irish girl who is even more naive than she had been; Quaker neighbors offer help and solace that Lyddie at first rejects out of hand. Deftly plotted and rich in incident, a well-researched picture of the period—and a memorable portrait of an untutored but intelligent young woman making her way against fierce odds.

Pub Date: March 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-525-67338-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

TIES THAT BIND, TIES THAT BREAK

Namioka (Den of the White Fox, 1997, etc.) offers readers a glimpse of the ritual of foot-binding, and a surprising heroine whose life is determined by her rejection of that ritual. Ailin is spirited—her family thinks uncontrollable—even at age five, in her family’s compound in China in 1911, she doesn’t want to have her feet bound, especially after Second Sister shows Ailin her own bound feet and tells her how much it hurts. Ailin can see already how bound feet will restrict her movements, and prevent her from running and playing. Her father takes the revolutionary step of permitting her to leave her feet alone, even though the family of Ailin’s betrothed then breaks off the engagement. Ailin goes to the missionary school and learns English; when her father dies and her uncle cuts off funds for tuition, she leaves her family to become a nanny for an American missionary couple’s children. She learns all the daily household chores that were done by servants in her own home, and finds herself, painfully, cut off from her own culture and separate from the Americans. At 16, she decides to go with the missionaries when they return to San Francisco, where she meets and marries another Chinese immigrant who starts his own restaurant. The metaphor of things bound and unbound is a ribbon winding through this vivid narrative; the story moves swiftly, while Ailin is a brave and engaging heroine whose difficult choices reflect her time and her gender. (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-385-32666-1

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

FORGOTTEN FIRE

Bagdasarian’s moving story of the little-told horror of the Armenian genocide is based on the recorded account by his great uncle. The narrative follows Vahan Kendarian from age 12 to 16, from a somewhat spoiled and confident school cut-up to a somber and steely young man. He watches as his brothers are shot and his sister takes poison and dies to avoid rape. He is molested himself, and nurses several companions to their deaths. He also builds a sense of his own inner character as he puts on many outward disguises, traveling from one dangerous situation to the next. If the narrative itself seems to wander and stumble through these experiences imparting little sense of direction, it does add to the mood of confusion, despair, and occasional unfounded hope. The lack of contextual material may frustrate some readers (WWI is not mentioned, and the presence of German and Russian military in Turkey not fully explained), but the short foreword does give just enough information to set the scene, and plunges readers, along with Vahan, into a terrifying situation they may not fully comprehend at first. There is very little material available to young readers on this subject. Kerop Bedoukian’s Some of Us Survived (1978) and David Kherdian’s Newbery Honor book The Road from Home (1979) are still in print, but this should find a new and appreciative readership. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7894-2627-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more