The covers of so many young adult books are so far removed from the storyline I wonder just what kinds of instructions the art department ever receives. In the case of The Red Thread Sisters, the cover image of two smiling, nicely dressed teen girls sitting back-to-back created a kind of culture shock as the first chapters unfolded featuring two impoverished Chinese girls, one handicapped, who meet to say goodbye to one another at the top of the orphanage’s garbage dump. The younger one, Wen, has been adopted by an American family who is waiting to take her away–a happy moment made heartbreaking as Wen knows she must leave her best friend, possibly forever. When Shu Ling gives Wen a drawing of the two of them, Wen promises to find her an American family as well. What she doesn’t realize is that Shu Ling’s age, and club foot may make her nearly unadoptable.
From the beginning, Wen struggles to adjust to her new American family. Their plenty–enough food, clothing of all kinds, their own house where Wen gets her own room–is in stark contrast to the orphanage where the children received only the barest of necessities. Wen should be happy, she knows, but the ghost of her own mother leaving her makes her doubt the family’s intentions, and unable to call her new Mom anything other than “Hey.” On top of that is her desire to see her friend Shu Ling.
As Wen’s English improves, so does her confidence and determination to keep her promise to her friend–and keep the thread between them strong.
This book is a tribute to the power of friendship, determination and perseverance. I found the background on international adoptions to be very interesting and far more involved than I had ever imagined.
Classroom Location: Author P
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