The Vine Basket | Josanne La Valley | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Vine Basket | Josanne La Valley | Book ReviewThe Vine Basket by Josanne La Valley
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Family, Multigenerational, Girls & Women, People & Places, Asia
Pages: 252
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
three-stars

Things aren't looking good for fourteen-year-old Mehrigul. She yearns to be in school, but she's needed on the family farm. The longer she's out of school, the more likely it is that she'll be sent off to a Chinese factory . . . perhaps never to return. Her only hope is an American woman who buys one of her decorative vine baskets for a staggering sum and says she will return in three weeks for more. Mehrigul must brave terrible storms, torn-up hands from working the fields, and her father's scorn to get the baskets done. The stakes are high, and time is passing. A powerful intergenerational story of a strong, creative young artist in a cruelly oppressive society.

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.

three-stars
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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

Comments

  1. I love the cover too, this is the first I’ve seen and heard of this book, but the setting appeals to me as well and I really like the sound of Merhighul’s story.

  2. The cover is pretty. I haven’t heard of this book before, but I like stories that take place outside of America. Great review 🙂

  3. The things that Mehrigul goes through sound heartbreaking and intense. But she sounds like an incredible character, one filled with strength and hope and determination. (Oddly, this also makes me think of the Philippines – there are people who have to live a similar sort of lifestyle). I’m very intrigued by this one! Glad you enjoyed it.

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