I love it when my 16-year-old daughter Lydia, recommends a book to me. As she predicted, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (Random House Inc., 2005) is a compelling, and at times disturbing, story about Chinese women in the 19th century. Unlike other popular young adult novels, this book is written as a personal narrative as the main character, Lily, tells her story directly to the reader. In this way the reader accompanies Lily on her journey as she is paired to another seven-year-old girl who becomes her laotong, her soul mate; undergoes the painful rite of footbinding; learns nushu the secret written language of women; is betrothed, married, and raises children---all within the strict rules of Chinese society.
In the course of the book, the reader learns about the shame, fears, superstitions, and traditions that ruled Chinese families as tightly as a seven-year-olds' bound foot. But it is also a book about love, asking the reader: what is true, unconditional love between friends that accepts without question a beloved's barbs and attacks? At the end, Lily confesses that her pride prevented her from loving rightly and gives the reader much to think about.
books for girls, young adult books