A powerful, dual-narrative coming-of-age story set in 2009 China.
Luli has just turned sixteen and finally aged out of the orphanage where she’s spent the last eight years. Her friend Yun has promised to help her get work. Yun loves the independence that her factory job brings her. For the first time in her life she has her own money and can get the things she wants: nice clothes, a cell phone…and Yong, her new boyfriend. There are rumors about Yong, though. Some people say he’s a bride trafficker: romancing young women only to kidnap them and sell them off to bachelors in the countryside. Yun doesn’t believe it. But then she discovers she’s pregnant the same day she gets fired from her job. If she can’t scrape together enough money to terminate the pregnancy, she’ll face a huge fine for having an unauthorized child. Luli wants to help her friend, but she’s worried about what Yong might do…especially when Yun disappears.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: Abortion, Strong language, Strong sexual themes, Underage drinking, Underage smoking, Graphic birth scene
Booklist (October 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 4))
Grades 9-12. Sixteen-year-old Luli has just aged out of the Chinese orphanage where she’s been living for eight years since her grandfather died. Her fellow orphan and friend Yun, who left the orphanage a year earlier, gets Luli a job at the electronics factory where she works. In alternating chapters, the girls relate the dramatic story of Yun’s unplanned pregnancy, her human trafficker boyfriend’s plans to sell their baby, and Luli’s loyalty to Yun despite Yun’s growing coldness. Liu’s debut novel, based on her immigrant parents’ past and her own trips to China, is set in 2009 and offers an insider’s view of the very real plight of young women affected by China’s one-child policy. The unusual setting and focus provide a much-needed look at the people who produce the goods we rely on worldwide and the hardships they face. Liu provides an authentic voice and portrayal of young Chinese women in difficult situations. Readers will learn much from this absorbing and realistic tale.
Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2018)
It is 2009 in the city of Gujiao, China: 16-year-old Luli and 17-year-old Yun, best friends, have aged out of their orphanage and are now enjoying the exhilarating independence of factory work. Their wages and dorm life offer an exciting taste of freedom, as does Yun’s handsome new boyfriend, Yong. Yun’s jealous ex-boyfriend says that Yong is illegally trafficking brides to the countryside, but Yun refuses to believe it. When she becomes pregnant, however, Yun, Luli, and Yong each have their own agendas, and their decisions and deceits result in a compelling, action-packed chain of events. During this time, China’s One-Child Policy made unmarried and multiple pregnancies illegal for most: Mothers would be fined for unauthorized pregnancies, and without an official permit would not even be allowed into a hospital to give birth. Told in the first person from the two girls’ alternating points of view, readers will be drawn into their emotional lives through sharing both their quiet, day-to-day routines and the moments of high drama, all of which are direct results of policies that trapped ordinary citizens and forced them into making terrible decisions. An affecting and original thrill ride highlighting the bond between two friends put in a horrible situation by actual Chinese government policies. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14-18)
About the Author
Jennie Liu is the daughter of Chinese immigrants. She has been fascinated by the attitudes, social policies, and changes in China each time she visits. She lives in North Carolina with her family.
Her website is www.jennieliuwrites.com
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