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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students




*Along the River: A Chinese Cinderella Story* by Adeline Yen Mah- young adult book review
 
Along the River: A Chinese Cinderella Story
by Adeline Yen Mah
Ages 14+ 208 pages Delacorte September 2010 Hardcover    

When young CC (short for Chinese Cinderella) falls from a drainpipe and hits her head, she is in a coma for weeks. Even after she wakes and her physical injuries heal, she is troubled by intense headaches and nagging dreams of someone elseís life.

Hoping to find the cause of the headaches, a wise doctor offers hypnosis therapy to CC. To everyoneís surprise, CCís trance takes her back over 800 years in time. While hypnotized, she recounts the story of a girl much like herself.

Like CC, Mei Lan is motherless, but she is tormented by her stepmother, Niang. Though she is the daughter of a wealthy and powerful man, Mei Lanís life in the ancient Song Dynasty is ruled by strict tradition and a patriarchal view of women and girls.

Along with her older brother, Gege, Mei Lan befriends the orphan boy Ah Li. Even though Mei Lanís father brings Ah Li into their household because of his exceptional artistic ability and as a friend for Gege, Niang strongly disapproves of such companionship and isnít afraid to use emotional and physical punishment to crush the trioís loyalty to each other.

Along the River is a detailed account of life in the Song Dynasty and of the myriad and complex social rules that govern individual lives. From foot binding to dumpling soup, the lives of Mei Lan and her family are drawn as clearly as the painting that inspires CCís dreams. While it is strongly suggested that CCís remembrance of Mei Lan and her world is the result of her reincarnation, there is nothing specifically concluded about that belief in the novel. In fact, the short sections about CC are only necessary in order to tie this book to others in the CC collection.

Author Adeline Yen Mah is best known for her memoir, Falling Leaves, and her autobiographical childrenís book Chinese Cinderella, in which she shares her own story of growing up under the thumb of a wicked stepmother. Here she gives us an exceptionally well-written and thoroughly entertaining historical novel.

Along the River is a unique tale encompassing the culture and language of Chinaís past. Throughout the book, Chinese characters accompany most of the names and many of the other words, making for a nice bonus if readers want to pursue a more in-depth study of the culture.

Though Mei Lanís eventual fate is left hanging, readers will find some reassurance in the clue of the painting, Along the River at the Qing Ming Festival, which is reproduced in the book. Readers looking for a book that is fresh and unafraid to break with storytelling norms will be delighted.
 
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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  Deborah Adams/2010 for curled up with a good kid's book  






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