Bound by Donna Jo Napoli

November 14, 2008
By Ellen Chen, Brooklyn, NY

Donna Jo Napoli brings readers Bound, a novel based on Chinese Cinderella tales. In this deliberate and satisfying story with strong, unforgettable characters, it tells of a fourteen year old girl that endures a life of neglect from her step-family. Readers will surely be addicted once they get their hands on the book and will be racing to the finish.
Xing Xing lives in ancient China in the time period were women are of the least importance. She spends her days taking care of her step-mother and half-sister, Wei Ping, who has trouble walking because of the traditional foot bindings. Xing Xing dreams of a life unbound by the laws of family and society. However, her dreams are threatened and may be shattered due to the greed and desperation of her late family.
The title, Bound, holds many special meanings and messages. When you read the word “bound”, it is not only a simple meaning of the foot bindings that allow girls' feet to become smaller in China. This simple statement describes Xing Xing. She is bound to a life of servitude for her step-family. She is bound to be alone and avoided. She is bound by the laws of family and society. She is bound from her dreams for the future.
“Xing Xing could not remember Stepmother ever having looked at her with approval.” This statement shows that Stepmother was never pleased with Xing Xing. She would always find faults in Xing Xing's actions and scold her for it. No matter how hard Xing Xing tried to help the family, her stepmother would never notice. Xing Xing was an obedient child that constantly followed the orders of her family. She fetched water, cooked food, ran errands and did everything to support her relatives. She is a character that easily makes readers sympathize her.
Bound is a dramatic retelling of what life was like back in the time period in which Xing Xing lived in. I felt this was excellently well-written and original. I highly recommend this book to teenagers who enjoy reading historical fiction.

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