The Vine Basket by Josanne La Valley caught my eye because of the beautifully illustrated cover that matches the title and the contents of the book. What sold me even more on checking out La Valley’s book was the East Turkestan setting. I have never read a book with an East Turkestan setting before, and thus wanted to learn something new about a people and a culture I am not familiar with, unfortunately. Featuring a Uyghur girl named Mehrigul, The Vine Basket is about achieving dreams and shaping one’s own future.
Mehrigul does not go to school. Instead, she helps out with chores around the farm. Unfortunately, because Mehrigul is not in school that means she can be sent to work in a factory in Southern China, as there is a quota her village must fill of workers. This is not what she wants for her future. Even worse, things aren’t even that great at home. Her dad is not a very nice guy and her mother is going through a depression. At least she has her sister and her grandfather who care about Mehrigul. One day when she is trying to sell the farm’s wares at market, an American woman comes by her stall and ends up buying a basket she had though useless, one woven of vines and not at all useful for carrying things. The lady pays a lot of money for the basket. She then promises to be back in three weeks and to buy more baskets. Unfortunately, lots of problems come up and try to prevent Mehrigul from her goal of making more vine baskets.
La Valley creates a compelling character in Mehrigul. You see, she keeps getting knocked down over and over again by life. First her brother leaves, so many burdens fall upon her now. Second, she might be sent away to a factory. Third, her home life is not that wonderful. Yet, she never gives up. Not when weather messes with her plans. Not when the very hands she uses to weave baskets becomes injured. Mehrigul just keeps on going, showing strength and determination. The Vine Basket has a main character to root for.
If you are looking for a very quick read that will likely take you under a day to finish, The Vine Basket by Josanne La Valley would be a great choice. It moves along at a quick clip, with plenty of events and actions. There are few lulls in the story. It is actually pretty harrowing to see Mehrigul go through obstacle after obstacle. I was certainly engaged by her struggles and hoping for her ultimate victory. Essentially, I would recommend this to readers especially between the ages of 9 and 13, but really those of any age, who enjoy learning about different cultures and love reading about strong willed young women.
Disclosure: Received via Amazon Vine for review
Other reviews of The Vine Basket by Josanne La Valley:
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