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Ties That Bind, Ties That Break

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Third Sister in the Tao family, Ailin has watched her two older sisters go through the painful process of having their feet bound. In China in 1911, all the women of good families follow this ancient tradition. But Ailin loves to run away from her governess and play games with her male cousins. Knowing she will never run again once her feet are bound, Ailin rebels and refu Third Sister in the Tao family, Ailin has watched her two older sisters go through the painful process of having their feet bound. In China in 1911, all the women of good families follow this ancient tradition. But Ailin loves to run away from her governess and play games with her male cousins. Knowing she will never run again once her feet are bound, Ailin rebels and refuses to follow this torturous tradition. As a result, however, the family of her intended husband breaks their marriage agreement. And as she enters adolescence, Ailin finds that her family is no longer willing to support her. Chinese society leaves few options for a single woman of good family, but with a bold conviction and an indomitable spirit, Ailin is determined to forge her own destiny. Her story is a tribute to all those women whose courage created new options for the generations who came after them.


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Third Sister in the Tao family, Ailin has watched her two older sisters go through the painful process of having their feet bound. In China in 1911, all the women of good families follow this ancient tradition. But Ailin loves to run away from her governess and play games with her male cousins. Knowing she will never run again once her feet are bound, Ailin rebels and refu Third Sister in the Tao family, Ailin has watched her two older sisters go through the painful process of having their feet bound. In China in 1911, all the women of good families follow this ancient tradition. But Ailin loves to run away from her governess and play games with her male cousins. Knowing she will never run again once her feet are bound, Ailin rebels and refuses to follow this torturous tradition. As a result, however, the family of her intended husband breaks their marriage agreement. And as she enters adolescence, Ailin finds that her family is no longer willing to support her. Chinese society leaves few options for a single woman of good family, but with a bold conviction and an indomitable spirit, Ailin is determined to forge her own destiny. Her story is a tribute to all those women whose courage created new options for the generations who came after them.

30 review for Ties That Bind, Ties That Break

  1. 5 out of 5

    Julie S.

    This young Chinese girl decides that she did not want to have her feet painfully bound, going against tradition. This novel takes us through her struggles and accomplishments that come as a result of this choice. The main character was strong, so I found myself rooting for her quite early in the book. It is always nice to see strong female characters. It was very interesting to see a book that dealt with Chinese culture without mocking it or being over-awed at it. This seemed to look at it through This young Chinese girl decides that she did not want to have her feet painfully bound, going against tradition. This novel takes us through her struggles and accomplishments that come as a result of this choice. The main character was strong, so I found myself rooting for her quite early in the book. It is always nice to see strong female characters. It was very interesting to see a book that dealt with Chinese culture without mocking it or being over-awed at it. This seemed to look at it through a clear lense, one that showed a reality. This book really had a zoomed-in view of the question "what is beauty?". In different times and cultures, the standards of beauty have drastically varied. It makes me wonder what future generations will say of our attempts to make ourselves more attractive: Fake tanning? Why would you pay to give yourself skin cancer and premature wrinkles? High heels? Aren't they just super hard to walk in? and so on.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Trisha

    This one was a freebie from Audible. The plot is set in the year 1911 when foot-binding was a mandatory practice for Chinese women. Ailin, third daughter of a rich Chinese family resists getting her feet bound, a decision which is supported by her father inspite of the disapproval from her mother. The whole story is narrated by a now grown-up Ailin as a flashback who looks back and confirms how that one small decision changed the course of her life. I found the book quite interesting since I had This one was a freebie from Audible. The plot is set in the year 1911 when foot-binding was a mandatory practice for Chinese women. Ailin, third daughter of a rich Chinese family resists getting her feet bound, a decision which is supported by her father inspite of the disapproval from her mother. The whole story is narrated by a now grown-up Ailin as a flashback who looks back and confirms how that one small decision changed the course of her life. I found the book quite interesting since I had never read anything about foot binding before, also it had brief information about Chinaโ€™s political situation in the early 20th century. The narration was particularly good - canโ€™t recall the name of the narrator now. The only negative was the writing which was too elementary, probably because itโ€™s basically a coming of age story. But considering its short duration, Iโ€™ll recommend it for light reading listening! ๐Ÿค“ 3.5/5๐ŸŒŸ(rounded down).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Hillary Wong

    This book talks about foot binding, which is a tradition in the 1910s that women had to go through. From this book, I understood how hard and how painful it is to go through this. I think the theme for this book is Be True. The main character needs to get her foot bound, but she was never the type of person that is quiet and listens to whatever people say. She is wild, energetic, and very loud. While they are quiet, peaceful, and do everything the elders say. But when she has to face binding her This book talks about foot binding, which is a tradition in the 1910s that women had to go through. From this book, I understood how hard and how painful it is to go through this. I think the theme for this book is Be True. The main character needs to get her foot bound, but she was never the type of person that is quiet and listens to whatever people say. She is wild, energetic, and very loud. While they are quiet, peaceful, and do everything the elders say. But when she has to face binding her feet, she knows that she either does it and be like everyone else or don't bind her feet and leave her home.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jultri

    Interesting era and topic - young girl growing up in 1920s China asserting her independence in a paternalistic society and later moving to San Francisco with her American missionary employers. Unfortunately, the plot and prose are rather simplistic and lacking in details beyond basic historical facts. Itโ€™s pretty short. Probably targeting a teenaged audience more. Pleasant narration.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Paige_y

    Ties That Bind, Ties That Break By: Paige Y. The title of my book is Ties That Bind, Ties That Break by Lensey Namioka. This book is definitely something worth reading, and I recommend this to anyone who loves reading historical fiction. The three main reasons I would recommend this book is one it gives the reader a different perspective of religion and how unreasonable or harsh it may be. Two, it is a very moving story with lots of detail that make it easy to follow. Three, it is very inspiring b Ties That Bind, Ties That Break By: Paige Y. The title of my book is Ties That Bind, Ties That Break by Lensey Namioka. This book is definitely something worth reading, and I recommend this to anyone who loves reading historical fiction. The three main reasons I would recommend this book is one it gives the reader a different perspective of religion and how unreasonable or harsh it may be. Two, it is a very moving story with lots of detail that make it easy to follow. Three, it is very inspiring because she rebelled against religion and wrote her own story. A quote from the book that really shows how unreasonably and harsh religion is: โ€˜โ€œMy fiances family broke our engagement because of my feet,โ€ I confessed to Xueyan. โ€œMy mother is afraid nobody will marry me now. โ€œโ€™ I think that just because she doesn't have bound feet doesnโ€™t mean that she is disgracing her family even if it is religion. I think that it is amazing that she stood up for what she believes in, and I think it is unreasonably that her fiances family broke her engagement just because of her feet. That is so unfair and unbelievable that just because someone has big feet that means that she in unsuitably to marry. Another direct passage is: โ€˜โ€œYouโ€™re the last person to talk about disgracing the Tao family!โ€ cried Big Uncle. โ€œBy refusing to have your feet bound, you've made it impossible for us to arrange a decent marriage for you!โ€โ€™ I believe that someone who wants to truly marry you should want to marry you because of your personality, not your feet. Ailin, the main character, was very brave to rebel against tradition and follow her dreams, and I think that by following her dreams, she ended up in a much better place than anyone thought she would end up in. This story is also very moving and a direct passage to support my thought is: โ€˜โ€œWe have confidence in your capability,โ€ Mr. Warner said. โ€œYouโ€™ve shown great skill in handling the children.โ€ Mr. Warner was not a person who was flattered, and I knew he was sincere.โ€โ€™ This to me is very moving because she is trusted by someone who she thought she couldn't trust for a while. I would be very honored if I was trusted with someone elseโ€™s children. Another example of this is: โ€œAilinโ€™s little brother gets to go to a missionary school.โ€ This is very moving because their grandmother thought that school was useless and a waste of time. Also her father died, so their mean uncle is in charge and he thought that school was a waste of time as well. So letting her little brother go to school is an amazing opportunity and he is doing what his father would want him to do. People donโ€™t even know how lucky they are to be able to go to school, Ailin and her little brother wanted to go to school so badly so having to get the chance is very moving to me. This book was also very inspiring and a quote to support that is: โ€œOne evening, when I was nine years old, Father made an announcement. โ€˜โ€œI am going to enroll Ailin in a public school.โ€โ€™ I think this is very inspiring because girls weren't allowed to go to school in 1911 and her father let her. Even though the other members of her family didn't approve of the idea, her father was supporting her every step of the way. Another example to support my idea is: โ€œGenerations of girls had to suffer excruciating pain because of somebody unknown had decreed that big feet were unacceptable in upper class society. It was high time that somebody tried to stop this senseless practice. I was proud that Xueyan and I were among the first to rebel.โ€ I think this is inspiring because Ailin is right, this is senseless and unreasonable. I think that it is great and amazing that she is rebelling against this horrible practice because she believes in herself and she believes that she has to tell everyone that this needs to stop. Once again, I recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction or just loves a good book to read. So go and get this book because you wonโ€™t regret reading this amazing, inspiring, and moving story. I promise you, you wonโ€™t be able to put this book down.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tegan

    I remember reading this and being shocked, I had no idea that this happened. It's been awhile since I've read this, but it has stuck with me. I definitely need to re-read it. I remember reading this and being shocked, I had no idea that this happened. It's been awhile since I've read this, but it has stuck with me. I definitely need to re-read it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ivy

    An impressing short read about an interesting era and topic. Ailin, a young girl in 1911 China, refuses to have her feet bound painfully. Chosing to go against a tradition all women of good families follow changes the course of her life, as the family of her intended husband breaks the marriage agreement and soon her family is no longer willing to support her. Society leaves very few options for a single woman... I wasn't too familiar with this tradition, did some research and wow. I guess it's d An impressing short read about an interesting era and topic. Ailin, a young girl in 1911 China, refuses to have her feet bound painfully. Chosing to go against a tradition all women of good families follow changes the course of her life, as the family of her intended husband breaks the marriage agreement and soon her family is no longer willing to support her. Society leaves very few options for a single woman... I wasn't too familiar with this tradition, did some research and wow. I guess it's different times, different culture, different standards of beauty. But still, for thousand years? I was impressed by her father, open for change but bound to tradition himself, standing up for her. And I was unpleasantly surprised to read about the females being strict and insisting to let this torture continue. But this is also something I often realize when reading about patriarchal structures. Ailin is a strong female character and her story of struggles and accomplishments is a "tribute to all women whose courage created new options for the following generations". Would definitely recommend, especially for those who don't know much about chinese culture.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jessical

    Ties That Bind, Ties That Break By: Jessica L The title of my book is Ties That Bind, Ties That Break. This book is written by Lensey Namioka. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction. The three main reasons why I would recommend this book are that the book was very emotional and moving, there were many adventures and struggles the characters go though, and lastly the storyline was very inspiring. A very emotional time in the book was when the father of the main chara Ties That Bind, Ties That Break By: Jessica L The title of my book is Ties That Bind, Ties That Break. This book is written by Lensey Namioka. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction. The three main reasons why I would recommend this book are that the book was very emotional and moving, there were many adventures and struggles the characters go though, and lastly the storyline was very inspiring. A very emotional time in the book was when the father of the main character, Ailin, died. She did not know what this meant until her sister brought it up. โ€œSecond Sisterโ€™s voice was shaky, โ€œAilin youโ€™ll have to think about what you will do when Fatherโ€ฆwhen Father is no longer here to support you.โ€ This quote described the moment when Ailinโ€™s Second Sister came to visit her father. Although Ailin lives with her Father she was oblivious to the fact that her fatherโ€™s health was failing quickly. Ailinโ€™s father was the only person that was supporting her education and choices. Earlier in the book, Ailin refused to have her feet bound because she loved running around and being free. Everyone in her family did not approve of her decision, except her father. And once he died, all her emotions just flowed out of her. I really felt her sorrow. But this moment was just the first of many difficult moments in her life. Ailinโ€™s life was full of adventures and struggles. After she decided to keep her big feet, her fiancรฉโ€™s family broke off their engagement. She knew she no longer had a promising future. Her choices were to become a concubine, a nun, or a farmerโ€™s wife. But instead she became an amah, or a nanny. โ€œIโ€™ve decided to go and work as an amah for an American missionary family [โ€ฆ] I thought it less disgraceful to the family name than becoming a concubine of the Fengs.โ€ This quote described the time when Ailin told her โ€œBig Uncleโ€ she was not accepting any of the choices he planned for. When she moved in with them she was not accustomed to their living styles or their clothing. But Ailin eventually caught on and started to live like an American. And lastly, this book was very inspiring. It describes how Ailin rebelled against traditions and stayed true to herself. SPOILER ALERT: Although she had a tough childhood, she ended up being happy. But she was not the only one who rebelled. When she was in school, she met a girl her age named Xueyan. She also had big feet, but that did not stop her from chasing her dreams. โ€œMy fiancรฉโ€™s family broke off our engagement because of my feet,โ€ I confessed to Xueyan. [โ€ฆ] โ€œWhatโ€™s so bad about that? I donโ€™t intend to get married at all. After finishing this school, Iโ€™m going to study medicine and become a doctor. Then I wonโ€™t need a husband to support me.โ€ Xueyan did not care what tradition stated, she did not even want to get married! She was a very motivating character. I admired how she decided her own destiny and did not follow the life that was chosen for her. I hope this book review encourages you to read this book! Although it is quite sad and emotional, it is also very moving and inspiring. This truly is a wonderful book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ariss

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The year is 1911, in China young girls are expected to bound their feet, a disgusting, painful process. Ailin, a five year old free spirit, goes against her mother and uncle making her, would have been easy and boring, life hard and exciting. I read this book when my teacher recommended it to me. Ailin is a character who is very easy to relate to and you begin to feel like you are in the story and you feel for all the characters. It took me two days to read this interesting novel. Tao Ailin,the The year is 1911, in China young girls are expected to bound their feet, a disgusting, painful process. Ailin, a five year old free spirit, goes against her mother and uncle making her, would have been easy and boring, life hard and exciting. I read this book when my teacher recommended it to me. Ailin is a character who is very easy to relate to and you begin to feel like you are in the story and you feel for all the characters. It took me two days to read this interesting novel. Tao Ailin,the third sister of the Taos an upper-class Chinese family, has seen what foot-binding has done to the women around her. She wants to run and play like boys her age but cannot do so if she has her feet bound. when she refuses, she breaks custom causes a tremendous uproar in the family. Leaving her to deal with the consequences. When her engagement is broken she decides she wantโ€™s to attend a school run by American missionaries with her fathers support in both going to school and not having to go to school she is very happy. When her father dies her uncle pulls her out of school and gives her the choice to be a concubine to a second brother with two wives, a nun, or a wife of a lower class farmer because she has โ€œbig feetโ€ she rejects all and she becomes an amah, a caretaker of children, for two missionaries and their kids. when faced with the choose to either stay in China with the family that has disowned her or go to America, she comes to America, where she knows that the life is hard but for her itโ€™s with it. In the end she see her ex fiancรฉ and claims that she has loved the life she's lived and is very happy. It is a great book. Very cultural, emotional and very appealing to any independent girl. If you are a person who enjoys rebellious headstrong girls or stories with a lot of culture this is the book for you.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Linda Lipko

    This book represents many things that I love about Young Adult fiction. There is depth of feeling, a large coming of age component, and a seriousness about the subject matter that is relative to all generations. The setting is China in 1917 when there were incredibly strict social and cultural rules of tradition. Wise beyond her age, high-spirited, spunky and stubborn five year old Allin is a member of a wealthy family wherein marriages are arranged according to socioeconomic standards. The Tao fam This book represents many things that I love about Young Adult fiction. There is depth of feeling, a large coming of age component, and a seriousness about the subject matter that is relative to all generations. The setting is China in 1917 when there were incredibly strict social and cultural rules of tradition. Wise beyond her age, high-spirited, spunky and stubborn five year old Allin is a member of a wealthy family wherein marriages are arranged according to socioeconomic standards. The Tao family has a unique opportunity to broker a marriage for Allin to a young man from a wealthier family. However, as is the custom, the binding of feet is a necessary requisite to prove class and wealth. Because, only peasants have "big feet." There is a wonderful weaving of historical conflict of China in great change as Western philosophies are perecieved as either eroding the culture, or moving the country forward from a secluded, claustrophobic nation. Vehement in her unwillingness to have her feet bound and to succumb to her perceived degradation her grandmother, mother and sister experienced in this process, with her father's support, Allin is successful in averting this occurrence. However, there is a steep price to pay because this renders Allin unacceptable for marriage to a wealthy family. Thus, the ties that bind the rich culture of the Tao family are riven with anguish. Their daughter and family are now shamed. Through trial and tribulation Allin literally learns to walk on her own two feet. Highly recommended!

  11. 5 out of 5

    W.H. Beck

    Ailin, the third daughter of a wealthy Chinese family in Nanjing in 1911, is smart, headstrong, and slightly spoiled. When she is five, she fights at having her feet bound. Her mother and grandmother are horrified, while her older sister is sympathetic. Her father surprises them all. "Ailin doesn't have to have her feet bound if she doesn't want it." "She's too young to understand the consequences," said Mother. "But I understand the consequences," said Father. Indeed, her father does understand th Ailin, the third daughter of a wealthy Chinese family in Nanjing in 1911, is smart, headstrong, and slightly spoiled. When she is five, she fights at having her feet bound. Her mother and grandmother are horrified, while her older sister is sympathetic. Her father surprises them all. "Ailin doesn't have to have her feet bound if she doesn't want it." "She's too young to understand the consequences," said Mother. "But I understand the consequences," said Father. Indeed, her father does understand that China is changing, and that maybe Ailin's world will look much different than his. Ailin keeps her spunk and spirit as she learns English, stands up to Big Uncle, and finally gains a kind of independence that no other woman in her family has ever dreamt of, bound feet or not. I'm headed to China in August, so I'm reading up all the books I'm coming across so I can share my trip with my students in the fall.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ashlee Bree

    โ€I was no delicate shoot buried in the sand. I was a stalk of bamboo, strong enough to stand against wind and snow.โ€ Chinese society in 1925 left few options for a single woman borne of a respectable family. She could marry well, join a nunnery, or become a concubine. However, Ailin Taoโ€™s bold conviction and indefatigable spirit not to conform allowed her to forge her on path. To stand proudly, courageously, on her two big, unbound feet. Running freely, unraveling her own desires, and learning ab โ€I was no delicate shoot buried in the sand. I was a stalk of bamboo, strong enough to stand against wind and snow.โ€ Chinese society in 1925 left few options for a single woman borne of a respectable family. She could marry well, join a nunnery, or become a concubine. However, Ailin Taoโ€™s bold conviction and indefatigable spirit not to conform allowed her to forge her on path. To stand proudly, courageously, on her two big, unbound feet. Running freely, unraveling her own desires, and learning about the broader world in the process, she helped pave the way for all the female generations that would come after her. What a fascinating look into Chinese history and tradition! What a tribute to evolving thoughts, to changing customs! Though the narration is short and simplistic, the story is no less illustrative for it. You still get a real sense of the ideology behind foot-bindingโ€”from natives, from foreigners, as well as arguments โ€˜forโ€™ and โ€˜against.โ€™

  13. 4 out of 5

    Yaxuan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Ailin, a five-year old girl living in China at the year 1911. She faces the wrath of her family, because girls from wealthy families had to have bind feet. Salva, an eleven-year old living in Southern Sudan, is undergoing the pressure of war between two countries and losses of his dear ones. Though these two characters and their stories can seem quite distinct, a common ground is found between the two. Glancing carefully back at the books "A Long Walk To Water" and "Ties That Bind, Ties That Br Ailin, a five-year old girl living in China at the year 1911. She faces the wrath of her family, because girls from wealthy families had to have bind feet. Salva, an eleven-year old living in Southern Sudan, is undergoing the pressure of war between two countries and losses of his dear ones. Though these two characters and their stories can seem quite distinct, a common ground is found between the two. Glancing carefully back at the books "A Long Walk To Water" and "Ties That Bind, Ties That Break," one can definitely detect that these memorable historical fictions have something alike that makes them so inspiring. They both share a moral, one stating that all determined people can change their own destiny if they work hard enough for it, just like Ailin and Salva did. In Ailin's story, she was encouraged by her family to have bind feet, because it kept your foot small and dainty, the words which were the perfect decription of fair ladies in the early 19's(China). She, however, saw what all her female relatives were going through and hated what they did. She loved her freedom and vowed to herself that she would never have her feet bind. Years later, she goes to America with a foregin family and decides to stay after finding her lover over there. I'd say that there was quite a bit of a feminist side to the story, because most of the book was about Ailin overcoming the shame of having large feet in (Chinese)society. In Salva's story, though, it was rather about a child who struggled through extremly rough conditions and a heartbreakingly sad childhood. Despite all the tests life threw at him, Salva manage to make it through his journey, one that was remarkably extraodinary. After being reunited with his family and being safe from the war, Salva managed to start a foundation that provided water for Southern Sudanese people. ALWTW was an outstanding story telling people to work hard towards their goals, with a bit of history in it. All in all, the two books are significant tales with the theme that one can reach goals by working hard. I would probably recommend them to people if they asked me for books motivating you to reach high for the goals you want to achieve. Who knows? Maybe one day, one of us would reach goals that can change everyone's lives, leaving their mark on the world.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Meg GlitteryOtters

    4.5 stars

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sophie Kaster

    This book was not my favorite of all of the books I have read. I got bored while reading it and it was hard for me to read. Not because it was too advanced and hard to comprehend, just because it was boring. This book was about a girl who didn't get her feet bound. If you didn't know footbinding is when you break your toes and other foot bones to make them be very small. The reason for this is to show you are going to be married. Since she did not get her foot bound it led to some different prob This book was not my favorite of all of the books I have read. I got bored while reading it and it was hard for me to read. Not because it was too advanced and hard to comprehend, just because it was boring. This book was about a girl who didn't get her feet bound. If you didn't know footbinding is when you break your toes and other foot bones to make them be very small. The reason for this is to show you are going to be married. Since she did not get her foot bound it led to some different problems. One problem it led to was that the main character, Ailin, had to have her wedding called off because she refused to have her feet bound. She had liked Hanwei (the boy she was going to get married to) and Hanwei liked her back. Hanwei's family tried not to get the wedding called off, but that didn't happen which later was a conflict. Also, something you should probably know is that Japanese/Chinese girls are usually the ones getting their feet bound. The girls most likely will get their feet bound when they are five but their wedding arrangements are usually made when they are four to six. So Ailin was older than most kids when they got their feet bound. I think that the protagonist is the Father in this book because he was all for what Ailin wanted to do such as going to school and not getting her feet bound. But I would say Big Uncle was the antagonist because once the father died he wanted to take her out of school and wanted everything to be traditional and for Ailin to live up to the family name. One rising action event was when Ailin became an amah, or a nanny, for the Warners. The reason she became an amah was that Big Uncle was always giving ideas of how she could live up to the family name because her feet weren't bound, so she chose to become an amah. The way she knew the Warners was from Miss.Gilbertson, her old language arts teacher, who had been friends with them. Ailin moving in with the Warners was also the climax. After Ailin took the job, she had to eat at different times that she wasn't used to. She also ended up moving to America with them, and she got married. You will have to read the book to find out the resolution. The theme of this book would also be that you don't have to do what everyone else does and be stereotypical. You can be who you are and do what you want to! I do not understand why Lensey Namioka (the author) named this book โ€œTies that Bind, Ties that Breakโ€. This is my good reads book review for โ€œTies that Bind, Ties that Break.โ€ I hope that this review helped you decide whether or not you want to read this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kristyn

    This book is about the foot bindings in ancient China. Long ago when a girl was still very young she would have her foot bound. Foot binding was a tradition that crippled girls, but small feet was considered fashionable. If your feet were unbound you were looked down upon since only girls who were farmers or very poor had unbound feet. With unbound feet you were garanteed to not make a good marriage. In this book it tells the story of a girl named Tao Ailin who refused to have her feet bound. Ta This book is about the foot bindings in ancient China. Long ago when a girl was still very young she would have her foot bound. Foot binding was a tradition that crippled girls, but small feet was considered fashionable. If your feet were unbound you were looked down upon since only girls who were farmers or very poor had unbound feet. With unbound feet you were garanteed to not make a good marriage. In this book it tells the story of a girl named Tao Ailin who refused to have her feet bound. Tao Ailin is from a wealthy and respectable family and was engaged to the son of another powerful family. When The mother of the son saw that Ailin's feet were unbound she insisted that Ailin have her feet bound as soon as possible. Ailin, of course refused so the lady broke off the engagement. Ailin later went to america and got married to the owner of a restarant. I really liked this book because it was very inspiring. It shows how a girl in China went against the tradition that had been around for hundreds of years.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Rose (thebooksmeller)

    This is a beautiful, poetic book. I read this in my early teens when I was really into Asian culture, and was so in love with Ailin, the brave girl who refuses to have her feet bound, but only years later when I re-read it I understood how respectfully and delicately the author deals with this very controversial issue. It's never about being disrespectful to a culture, it's about a young girl who loves to run around and be free. This is a beautiful, poetic book. I read this in my early teens when I was really into Asian culture, and was so in love with Ailin, the brave girl who refuses to have her feet bound, but only years later when I re-read it I understood how respectfully and delicately the author deals with this very controversial issue. It's never about being disrespectful to a culture, it's about a young girl who loves to run around and be free.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarah F

    Read this with an advanced ESL class. I would not say that it is in any way a work of art; if anything, it's poorly written, all the characters two-dimensional, and the plot thin and at times confusing. However, my students (mostly Chinese) found it accessible and they certainly had plenty to say during discussions about the topics in the story. I don't even want to have to read it again, but I would use it again for class. Read this with an advanced ESL class. I would not say that it is in any way a work of art; if anything, it's poorly written, all the characters two-dimensional, and the plot thin and at times confusing. However, my students (mostly Chinese) found it accessible and they certainly had plenty to say during discussions about the topics in the story. I don't even want to have to read it again, but I would use it again for class.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jaylin Saunders

    This is a very good book. I honestly dont see much wrong with the book. Maybe at the end there could have been something telling about what with her friends and family and how their future turned out for them. If you want a book where it is "Man vs. Society" then this book is for you. This is a very good book. I honestly dont see much wrong with the book. Maybe at the end there could have been something telling about what with her friends and family and how their future turned out for them. If you want a book where it is "Man vs. Society" then this book is for you.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Shaeley Santiago

    Ailin breaks with tradition when she refuses to have her feet bound. Set in San Francisco and Nanjing, China in the early 1900's, the story explores the changing role of Chinese women at that time. Ailin breaks with tradition when she refuses to have her feet bound. Set in San Francisco and Nanjing, China in the early 1900's, the story explores the changing role of Chinese women at that time.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Deep_Abyss

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Three stars. Not four. Three. Why? This has a nice simple plot to understand but lacked in being enjoyable. But it was it good. Just not excellent. If it was,maybe four stars. Negative one also to a bad cover. A book about a girl who wants to break tradition and fight for a better life for herself? Consider me intrigued. Ailin sounds like a badass protagonist with a strong mind and I canโ€™t wait to dig deeper into her story. Even if it is short. โ€œ๐ˆ ๐๐ข๐๐งโ€™๐ญ ๐ฆ๐ข๐ง๐ ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ซ๐ž๐ฌ. ๐ˆ ๐œ๐จ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ ๐จ๐ฎ๐ญ๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ซ๐ž ๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ฆ๐ฒ ๐ฆ๐š Three stars. Not four. Three. Why? This has a nice simple plot to understand but lacked in being enjoyable. But it was it good. Just not excellent. If it was,maybe four stars. Negative one also to a bad cover. A book about a girl who wants to break tradition and fight for a better life for herself? Consider me intrigued. Ailin sounds like a badass protagonist with a strong mind and I canโ€™t wait to dig deeper into her story. Even if it is short. โ€œ๐ˆ ๐๐ข๐๐งโ€™๐ญ ๐ฆ๐ข๐ง๐ ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ซ๐ž๐ฌ. ๐ˆ ๐œ๐จ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ ๐จ๐ฎ๐ญ๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ซ๐ž ๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ฆ๐ฒ ๐ฆ๐š๐ฅ๐ž ๐œ๐จ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ข๐ง๐ฌ.โ€ Ailin gets character development points,because not only is she head strong but she knows what to do. She doesnโ€™t care what other people think. โ€œ๐ˆ ๐ฐ๐จ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ ๐ฅ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž ๐ญ๐จ ๐ ๐จ ๐ญ๐จ ๐š ๐ฌ๐œ๐ก๐จ๐จ๐ฅ ๐ฌ๐œ๐ก๐จ๐จ๐ฅ.โ€ โ€œ๐˜๐จ๐ฎ ๐œ๐š๐งโ€™๐ญโ€ ๐ฌ๐š๐ข๐ ๐‡๐š๐ง๐ฐ๐ž๐ข. โ€œ๐˜๐จ๐ฎโ€™๐ซ๐ž ๐š ๐ ๐ข๐ซ๐ฅ.โ€ โ€œ๐ˆ ๐๐จ๐งโ€™๐ญ ๐ฌ๐ž๐ž ๐ฐ๐ก๐ฒ ๐š ๐ ๐ข๐ซ๐ฅ ๐œ๐š๐งโ€™๐ญ ๐ ๐จ ๐ญ๐จ ๐š๐ง ๐จ๐ฎ๐ญ๐ฌ๐ข๐๐ž ๐ฌ๐œ๐ก๐จ๐จ๐ฅ!โ€ ๐ˆ ๐ฉ๐ซ๐จ๐ญ๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ๐ž๐. I like that Ailin is ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ฅ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜จ and ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ง๐˜ช๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต. โ€œ๐€๐›๐จ๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐จ๐ง๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ฒ ๐๐ข๐ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐ฃ๐ž๐ž๐ซ ๐š๐ญ ๐ฆ๐ž ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐›๐ž๐ข๐ง๐  ๐š ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ž๐ฅ๐ž๐ฌ๐ฌ ๐ ๐ข๐ซ๐ฅ.โ€ โ€œ๐–๐ก๐ฒ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐ข๐ญ ๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ซ๐ข๐ ๐ก๐ญ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐™—๐™ค๐™ฎ๐™จ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ซ๐ฎ๐ง ๐š๐ซ๐จ๐ฎ๐ง๐ ๐›๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ง๐จ๐ญ ๐ฆ๐ž?โ€ Ailin is about to get married and is engaged in a arranged marriage at the ๐š๐ ๐ž ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐Ÿ“. She is a about to get her ๐Ÿ๐ž๐ž๐ญ ๐›๐จ๐ฎ๐ง๐. Ailin doesnโ€™t want her feet bound so she decides to break tradition. I appreciate the way the story is written,because most just play into the stereotypes or are either inaccurately portrayed. I also would like to say: maybe make a better cover? I mean I love it,but maybe a girl looking up at the sky with her dress swaying in the breeze? A dragon? (No I am not being racist,dragons play a huge part in Chinese culture). It would be cool to see another alternate cover. So the cover gets a score of 3/5. I like that Ailin is not only headstrong but wants to see how it would be like without bound feet. Despite the choices she makes she explores a different world where woman are not treated equally. If you ask me J-Loโ€™s song โ€œI Ainโ€™t Your Mommaโ€ gotta play. Female empowerment+ Fighting= BADASS.โ€”>That is a good formula. โ€œPersonally,I thought that if First Auntie had seen Big Uncles face beforehand,she would have run away screaming instead of going on with the Wedding.โ€ Not only is Ailin strong,she has a good sense of humor. Which makes for a good protagonist. โ€œI admired Xueyan. I copied the way she walked with big confident steps.โ€ Ailins story deals with fighting for the life you want,but it also explodes other sides of human nature. I like that. โ€œAt school I was Eileen,speaking English and learning about galaxies and far away countries such as Russia. At home I was Ailin,a naughty girl whose engagement had been broken.โ€ Some people donโ€™t like this book and I can get why,but so far I liked how Ailin describes her world. โ€œ..Miss Scott said that throughout history,Chinese history women were not better then slaves.โ€ History women? โ€œHistoryโ€ women? Does that sound even sensible to you? Couldnโ€™t the author find a better word? Like just โ€œwoman throughout the history of China were considered salves โ€ rather then โ€œChinese history women?โ€ โ€œIf we Women are so powerful,why do we submit to the torture of having our feet bound? Men donโ€™t have to have bound feet.โ€ This is where the story falls off the cliff to me. All I hear is โ€œfoot boundโ€ this and โ€œfoot boundโ€ that. Where is the action? 70 pages in and all I get is complaining about a problem that doesnโ€™t even matter to Ailin since she already doesnโ€™t have to have her feet bound. This book also mentions that Confucius taught that women should be submissive to man. What.The.F*CK.?! โ€œHaving bound feet sure make us women helpless and submissive.โ€ I am a strong believer in that girls can do anything (listen to Disney channels โ€œLEGENDARY.โ€) But this book?! When I got to this point in the book,I got about ready to smash a damn brick. โ€œGenerations of girls had to suffer excruciating pain because somebody unknown had decided that big feet were unacceptable in upper class society. It was high time that somebody tried to stop this senseless practice. I was proud that Xueyan and I were among the first to rebel.โ€ First of all,โ€big feet?โ€ โ€œHigh time?โ€ WTF?! First a bad cover and now some sentences that need to be seriously evaluated. โ€œTraditionally the strongest weapon that a Chinese woman had was suicide.โ€ So a book for a 12 y.o. mentions this? And โ€œtraditionally?โ€ โ€œBut I refused to consider suicide. I didnโ€™t have complete confidence that my angry ghost would come back to haunt big Uncle.โ€ WTF?! Really?! Your considering killing yourself? Since when was that ever a option?! โ€œIn the Warner family,I was making a contribution. I was needed.โ€ โ€œBy standing on my own two big feet.โ€ The ending shook me. The romance was rocky. There could have been more pages. But overall this was a good story. Simple and easy to understand. Ailin manages to prove her family wrong and gets the life she wanted. It could have been better executed,but a story of a woman who is willing to work hard for what she believes in. I enjoyed it. PS(There is a sequel based on Ailins friend,which does not effect the plot of this story but I liked this book better.)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Teenage Reads

    Plot: Ailin, five years old, was ready for her engagement. Ailin was the youngest, with First Sister already married, Second Sister on the countdown, Ailin was Miss. Three, who ran around the yard, made fun of her slow cousins and wanted to know about the world. Her engagement was to seven-year-old Hanwei, with his high eyebrows who, even after just meeting her, tried to teach Ailin English. There was one problem. Mrs. Lin, an old family friend, would not let her son marry a girl with unbound fee Plot: Ailin, five years old, was ready for her engagement. Ailin was the youngest, with First Sister already married, Second Sister on the countdown, Ailin was Miss. Three, who ran around the yard, made fun of her slow cousins and wanted to know about the world. Her engagement was to seven-year-old Hanwei, with his high eyebrows who, even after just meeting her, tried to teach Ailin English. There was one problem. Mrs. Lin, an old family friend, would not let her son marry a girl with unbound feet. Wearing bounds of cloth, the girls of China must bend all their toes (except their big one) under their foot so that they can have tiny feet for those pointy shoes. After seeing the Second Sister stub of a food, Ailin knew she would never bind her feet. Fighting against her mother, it was her father who said she did not have to bind her feet, and that he knows the consequences even if Ailin does not. With the engagement broken off, Ailin finds her life to begin to change as her family sees her as useless with no husband in sight, and feet too big to be useful. Thoughts: What an astonishing novel. Short, with eleven chapters and 150 pages, this brings us through Ailin's life from five to nineteen. The history of women's binding feet in western culture has never been disused. Women have done a lot of the pain process in the past to make themselves look beautiful: from corsets, bigger lips, longer necks, why should tiny feet be any different. Lensey Namioka talks in the back of the book about the history of binding feet, how it stopped in the 1930s, but some isolated places were still binding feet of their girls in the 1940s. The character Namioka decided to tell was Ailin, a bright girl who at age five wanted to break this custom. Her enthusiasm to learn about the world made you want the world for this child. Besides Ailin, the other best characters were Second Sister and her father. The second Sister gave Ailin the raw truth of what bound feet look like, knowing that Ailin would never go for it, and in a way made Ailin, even more, determine not to have her feet bound. Her father was a modern Chinese man, who saw that China was changing and let his youngest go with her big feet and provided the education she desperately needed. Where Namioka's writing was boring in parts, the story is so short that the plot keeps a steady pace throughout the story. Ailin is a girl who defies her cultural traditions, and with her big feet and all, set out to change the world and provide herself a better life.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nic

    I originally download this novel because it revolves heavily around the tradition of foot binding, one that I know very little about. The main character, Eileen, shows reluctance towards having her own bound, which catapults her life on a completely different path from what she ever could have imagined. She is resilient and marches to her own drum beat, always facing whatever may come. Now for the specifics. STOP READING IF YOU DON'T WANT SPOILERS!โ€ผ๏ธ I found myself relating to Eileen on several le I originally download this novel because it revolves heavily around the tradition of foot binding, one that I know very little about. The main character, Eileen, shows reluctance towards having her own bound, which catapults her life on a completely different path from what she ever could have imagined. She is resilient and marches to her own drum beat, always facing whatever may come. Now for the specifics. STOP READING IF YOU DON'T WANT SPOILERS!โ€ผ๏ธ I found myself relating to Eileen on several levels. I've always gone against the grain, and like her, always had my Papa to back me up (and Nana!). She's sent instead to a public school since women whose feet are unbound don't typically have the best prospects for their futures in both marriage and overall quality of life. Here, she learns she has a knack for languages (same) but when her dad dies (I can relate), she's pulled from school. Her English teacher offers to privately tutor her, which leads to a nannying job for an American family (I nannied quite a bit, too, and for several families). When the family is sent back to America on furlough, they invite Eileen along, insisting she's got a magnetic attachment to their children. She goes (just as I moved away feeling there was something more), and her whole life changes (again, same). In America, she learns that we don't have servants here, which means she must adapt to a new way of life (just as my own experiences had me adapt, minus ever having had servants). When the family goes back to China, Eileen paves her own path, insisting on staying here... Where she lives a life severely unlike traditional Chinese women. She becomes proud of it and well, I can say the same. This novel resonated deeply with me even for reasons I've not put into this review. Ten out of ten if you need a strong lead character who is also very human, too.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    Ties That Bind, Ties That Break is a tale told in near contemporary China. It reads as contemporary, even though much of it takes place well over a century ago. I suppose as we age the past grows ever nearer to us. So, 1911 reads as practically the present to me. When I was a younger, my grandpa being born in 1902 seemed an eternity ago. Now, it's just the dangling roots of a dandelion I've pulled up. It's right there. Maybe it's just my own mortality starting to stare me in my face. Maybe it's Ties That Bind, Ties That Break is a tale told in near contemporary China. It reads as contemporary, even though much of it takes place well over a century ago. I suppose as we age the past grows ever nearer to us. So, 1911 reads as practically the present to me. When I was a younger, my grandpa being born in 1902 seemed an eternity ago. Now, it's just the dangling roots of a dandelion I've pulled up. It's right there. Maybe it's just my own mortality starting to stare me in my face. Maybe it's just as much bad math. The ties in the book are those of family, culture, and in a literal sense, the cloths that bind up and break the feet of young girls. If you have any sense, you can infer what the cutting or breaking of those ties will do, and the fate set up by the title is made plain. The book would be a great companion piece with Donna Jo Napoli's Bound. If you're going to read one, you may as well read both. They're both short and quite good. They're the YA bookends to that Chinese cultural phenomenon of footbinding. Bound takes place during the Ming Dynasty - so not quite right at the beginning of the practice, but pretty early - and Ties That Bind, Ties That Break takes place right at the end. If I was still teaching 7th grade, I might make a bigger push to get both of these titles.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Tan

    **Warning: this text may contain spoilers** It is a wonderful book on a girl named Ailin (aka Eileen) who refuses to have her feet bound, hence causing her engagement to be broken by her fiancรฉ's mother. I love how this book shows the challenges Ailin had to face as a result of her unbound feet and how it managed to shape her character from a spoiled girl to a determined, hardworking and resilient woman, who is willing to work hard for her dreams to become a chef. I also enjoyed the ending, wher **Warning: this text may contain spoilers** It is a wonderful book on a girl named Ailin (aka Eileen) who refuses to have her feet bound, hence causing her engagement to be broken by her fiancรฉ's mother. I love how this book shows the challenges Ailin had to face as a result of her unbound feet and how it managed to shape her character from a spoiled girl to a determined, hardworking and resilient woman, who is willing to work hard for her dreams to become a chef. I also enjoyed the ending, where she finally meets the man that she loves as well as her former fiancรฉ, to get him to share her story to her family. I find that the title of the book fits the story perfectly as by choosing to have bound feet, she is able to continue her lavish life with her former fiancรฉ and maintain good relationships with her family, but by choosing to have unbound feet, not only is she severing her engagement, she is also straining her relationship with her family, and she also risks losing her identity by being deemed a foreigner, although she is a local.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Anya

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was a quick and entertaining read with a likeable and believable heroine, Ailin. I won't bother explaining the plot because it's right there at the top of the screen, so I'll just share my thoughts. This is a Puffin book, which is Penguins equivalent for young readers; this book reads too simply to be a YA but the subject matter is quite intense so I can see why it's better for older teens. For someone who didn't know about the practice of foot-binding, this would be a great introduction! T This was a quick and entertaining read with a likeable and believable heroine, Ailin. I won't bother explaining the plot because it's right there at the top of the screen, so I'll just share my thoughts. This is a Puffin book, which is Penguins equivalent for young readers; this book reads too simply to be a YA but the subject matter is quite intense so I can see why it's better for older teens. For someone who didn't know about the practice of foot-binding, this would be a great introduction! The story is quick to read and easy to follow, with the information relating to our main character in an impactful way. One thing I did find strange was the character of James. For one thing, he was 26 and Ailin was about 15 when they met. I can't quite work out the timeline, but it seems they got married not long after - a year maybe? This age difference is rather uncomfortable. Also, James's second name is said to be 'Chew' when they first meet, but in the very start of the book, Ailin says she is 'now Mrs. Zhao'. ยฟQue? Other than that, this is a good book - simple but memorable.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Danielle DuPuis

    I really enjoyed this one - quick read, but I wish there was more. I was completely absorbed in the story of Ailin and how she defies her family's wishes of having her feet bound. Her father sides with her and eventually allows her to attend public school and learn English. Her mother and grandmother think of her as a disgrace for not having her feet bound, but thankfully she is supported by her father until he isn't able to support her anymore (I don't want to give away too much here). Her stor I really enjoyed this one - quick read, but I wish there was more. I was completely absorbed in the story of Ailin and how she defies her family's wishes of having her feet bound. Her father sides with her and eventually allows her to attend public school and learn English. Her mother and grandmother think of her as a disgrace for not having her feet bound, but thankfully she is supported by her father until he isn't able to support her anymore (I don't want to give away too much here). Her story eventually ends happily, but it was sad that she wasn't appreciated by her family because she wanted to learn and was strong-willed... two qualities that were frowned upon in China during the early 20th century. Recommended for teens interested in other cultures and stories with strong female characters.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    In this fictionalized account of a third daughter in a traditional Chinese family in the early 20th Century, Ailin refuses to have her feet bound. Usually a painful procedure which renders the girl virtually without mobility, it is said to have been attractive to men and therefore more easily to attract a wealthy husband. Ailinโ€™s father is her biggest supporter, but when he dies, her Uncle looks upon her unfavorably. His decision for her future comes with dire consequences. Through a luck of fat In this fictionalized account of a third daughter in a traditional Chinese family in the early 20th Century, Ailin refuses to have her feet bound. Usually a painful procedure which renders the girl virtually without mobility, it is said to have been attractive to men and therefore more easily to attract a wealthy husband. Ailinโ€™s father is her biggest supporter, but when he dies, her Uncle looks upon her unfavorably. His decision for her future comes with dire consequences. Through a luck of fate, she gains employment with an American missionary family as the childrenโ€™s tutor. And, in the end, cuts off communication with her family. Her personal rebellion brings about great changes in her life...yet, eventually she is happy and fulfilled working side by side with a husband of her own choosing.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jane Gomez

    I rate "Ties That Bind, Ties That Break" with a 5-start rating in the context of a YA book. However, that is not to diminish the appeal to an adult reader who is interested in the concept of binding the feet of women. This tradition of foot-binding is perhaps unique to China but other traditions used around the world serve the same purpose; to keep women in a position of weakness and submission to men. I found it invigorating and encouraging to see the protagonist's desire to fight tradition (ac I rate "Ties That Bind, Ties That Break" with a 5-start rating in the context of a YA book. However, that is not to diminish the appeal to an adult reader who is interested in the concept of binding the feet of women. This tradition of foot-binding is perhaps unique to China but other traditions used around the world serve the same purpose; to keep women in a position of weakness and submission to men. I found it invigorating and encouraging to see the protagonist's desire to fight tradition (actually primarily through the permissiveness of a progressive-minded father). I could see using this book in a middle-school classroom to generate discussion on the role of tradition in determining cultural norms and on whether and when traditions should be challenged.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Missy Maxwell

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is the story of a young headstrong girl growing up in China in the early 20th Century who refuses to have her feet bound. She goes to school and is very good at English, gets the English name Eileen, but is removed from school once her father dies. Her English teacher continues to tutor her for free and gets her a job as a nanny for a family of American missionaries. She leaves her family as they are planning to give her away as a concubine. The American family eventually takes Eileen with This is the story of a young headstrong girl growing up in China in the early 20th Century who refuses to have her feet bound. She goes to school and is very good at English, gets the English name Eileen, but is removed from school once her father dies. Her English teacher continues to tutor her for free and gets her a job as a nanny for a family of American missionaries. She leaves her family as they are planning to give her away as a concubine. The American family eventually takes Eileen with them to San Francisco to live and continue work for them. She meets an American-Chinese man on the ship and eventually marries him and starts a restaurant with him. This is a lovely story and is informative on the practice of foot binding. It was labeled YA and is a bit juvenile, but still good.

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