Monday, May 13, 2013
The Vine Basket by Josanne La Valley
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Mehrigul is a Uyghur(WEEgur) girl. She lives in a place where young girls are sent to work in factories if they don't attend school. When those girls are needed at home just to make end's meet, their families are put in a tough spot. When Mehrigul's brother leaves home, she is forced to stay at home to help her family. Now Mehrigul is in danger of being sent away to the factories, though.
While at the market with her father, an American lady spots her plain, useless grapevine basket, and pays Mehrigul far more than she would possibly expect. Even more amazing to Mehrigul is that she offers to buy more when she comes back in three weeks. Can Mehrigul find the time and bravery to make those baskets?
It was hard for my mind to wrap around the fact that this book is set in modern times, not historical. It was eye opening to me that such issues(and worse) take place miles away from me RIGHT NOW! I also never really understood why some people refuse to buy items "Made in China". (Yes, I'm pretty sheltered!) I understand now. It's *not* because it's made overseas. It's because these innocent young girls are forced away from home to make these cheap little items in factories. It's opened my eyes to the way I will shop from now on. Now beautiful items like the baskets made to help one's family, that's another story!
Mehrigul's parents throughout the story aren't the best of role models. Since her brother left home, her mother and father have sunk into deep depressions. Her father is an alcoholic and gambles money away that should be spent on food and debt. Her mother can barely function at times due to her depression, and she relies on a special tea to help her sleep. I just wanted to smack them upside the head quite frequently! At the same time, she is also surrounded by wonderful people that love her. Her grandfather was so wonderful, you can't help but want to hug him. He's so graceful and sweet, it will bring tears to your eyes. La Valley actually has such a beautiful way with words, that she will bring tears to your eyes quite frequently. She had an amazing way of bringing her characters right off the pages.
Mehrigul has an outstanding journey with her struggles not only making the baskets, but taking on a role in her family she isn't supposed to have to take. She also struggles with her family's rapid loss of status, and the teasing and disrespect that comes with it. She is an amazing and strong character. She sometimes had a hard time keeping her place. Even if I didn't agree with her low status as a woman, that is her land's traditions. She tries to make things right, though, and for that I think she is an excellent role model for any young lady.
Overall, I highly recommend The Vine Basket, both for the amazing characters it contains, and the educational experience it provides.
*I was provided an ARC through Amazon Vine in exchange for my honest opinion.