Bound To Stay Bound

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Full Text Reviews:

Booklist - 04/15/2016 Mercy Wong, the daughter of a Chinatown launderer in San Francisco, has always been ambitious, but it’s a hard trait for a 15-year-old Chinese American girl to have. Still, that ambition (plus a little bribery) gets her in the door of prestigious St. Clare’s, a school that would otherwise never admit someone like her. Just as her headstrong demeanor gets her into big trouble, even bigger trouble arrives: the historic earthquake of 1906 devastates the city. As the dust settles, Mercy tries to find her family, and she and her classmates face a startling new reality where empathy and generosity have the power to supersede class and race lines. Mercy’s narrative is flecked with witty puns, pithy wisdom from her fortune-telling mother, aphorisms from her favorite business book, and her obsession with bad-luck number four, all of which provide meaningful insight into both her character and her culture. While slipping in plenty of meaty historical context, particularly about the discrimination facing Chinese immigrants at the time, Lee tells a resoundingly warmhearted story about community arising amidst earth-shattering disaster. - Copyright 2016 Booklist.

Bulletin for the Center... - 06/01/2016 Mercy is not going to settle for what is expected of her in the Chinese community in early twentieth century San Francisco, which is to be happy with little education, an arranged marriage, and never leaving Chinatown. She brazenly makes a deal with the director of an elite school, managing to gain admittance, and even though it’s not what she first imagined (it’s far less academically rigorous than she would like), it’s still a path to a better life for her and her family. She’s barely settled in, however, when the 1906 earthquake hits, and suddenly, all of Mercy’s leadership skills will be put to the test as she must negotiate the the complete collapse of the school and manage fancy schoolmates who don’t know how to survive without hired help. Mercy is a splendid narrator; her grit and humor makes the steady flow of racism she encounters even more jarring. Historical fiction fans are in for a real treat, and an author’s note (actually two, a short one that gives the basics and a longer one for those more interested) details which parts are drawn right from history. For readers unfamiliar with the startlingly hostility toward Chinese immigrants in the United States around the turn of the century, this may be a surprise, but unfortunately there are plenty of modern examples of racism that they’ll be able to link this to. AS - Copyright 2016 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.

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