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SPILLED WATER by Sally Grindley


by Sally Grindley

Age Range: 12 - 15

Pub Date: Sept. 4th, 2004
ISBN: 1-58234-937-1
Publisher: Bloomsbury

When Lu Si-Yan’s father dies and her mother suffers a breakdown, her selfish, old-fashioned Uncle sells her to the wealthy Chen family as a servant. Barely 12 and inexperienced, Lu Si-Yan’s slave-labor is recognized as illegal by the Chen grandmother, who gives her money and helps her leave. After the money is stolen, the girl’s naïve innocence lets her fall into the trap of factory life, complete with unfair labor practices, compulsory overtime, withheld wages in a prison-like setting that offers room and board for unbearably long work days and nights. Grindley gives an eye-opening view at modern entrepreneurial China within the sweatshop environment of a toy factory. Her protagonist matures in the company of selfish, exploitive adults who take advantage of her youth and needy circumstances and some conscientiously courageous individuals like the Chen’s grandmother, their cook, and fellow factory worker and surrogate sister, Li Mei. Their support provides a source of strength and justice to aid in her return home. A well-developed page-turner with a somewhat idealistic ending as Uncle welcomes Lu Si-Yan home, ever remorseful for his role in her harsh, difficult life and her mother’s ultimate death. (Fiction. 12-15)