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Spilled Water

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  608 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
This is a drama set in modern-day China. It was short listed for the 2004 Smarties Award for fiction 9 - 11.

On the day that her uncle takes her to be sold to the highest bidder, eleven-year-old Lu Si-Yan learns what it really means to be born a girl in her culture: to be worth nothing more than a little spilled water. Torn from her family, she is taken to the smog-wrapped
Paperback, 224 pages
Published June 6th 2005 by Bloomsbury Children's Books (first published 2001)
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Apr 11, 2013 Ana rated it really liked it
Shelves: diff-perspective
Do not be fooled by the whimsical-looking cover and the “Children’s” genre. This book explores some very heavy themes: a girl’s place in society (that she is somehow “less” than a boy), betrayal, abuse, child labour, inhumane working conditions, and unscrupulous employers. It did not make me cry as I thought it would, but it still tugged at my emotions and made me feel for Si-Yan.

After some rudimentary Googling, I came to the conclusion that the phrase “spilled water” means something like a “was
Sep 09, 2011 Brianna rated it it was amazing
Spilled Water by Sally Grindley is a story about a Chinese girl who beats all odds in her life to finding her way home to her family. To me, this book was very emotional and life changing and made me look at my life differently. This story is about an eleven year-old named Lu-Si Yan who lived with her mother, father, and brother. Until one day her father is killed in a tragic accident that leaves her and her family estranged. Since the father was the provider of the family, the mother didn't kno ...more
Beth Dean
Jun 01, 2011 Beth Dean rated it really liked it
As the blurb says it was heart-wrenching, I couldn't help but hope for Lu Si-yan completely and utterly and what was worse was that this situation happens, all the time and yet I don't even know them or think about it. Of course the concept of sweat shops everyone knows about, or if they don't they really should by now, it's a worldwide issue which HAS to be dealt with. The book is clever in that it filters this issue and yet leaves nothing important about the issue out such as the deductions in ...more
Jan 23, 2008 Joanna rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone!
Recommended to Joanna by: My cousin
Sold to a rich family, determined to get home, Lu Si-Yan never expected her life will turn out this way after her beloved father's death. In the rich family, Lu Si-Yan was told she would marry the son of the Chen's, when she get older, but she hardly ever seen him. She was sold to become a servant. When she finally get to meet him , while serving dinner, she thought he was pretty handsome ,but the way he act was kind of... childish. It really creep her out.
As Lu Si-Yan try to step out of one hol
Salima Korri
Jun 25, 2012 Salima Korri rated it it was amazing
I read this in one hour and I simply adored it. It took me a while to bring myself to read it but once I discovered that it contained some Chinese Cinderella elements I whizzed though it like a bird.

It certainly does give off the Chinese Cinderella Vibe and everything was beautifully written from start to finish even though I did think that some chapter were too short considering they were only Lu Si-Yan's memories from her childhood.

Lu Si-Yan has such a passionate personality and is so determin
May 23, 2014 Vedika rated it really liked it
This book is a really sad one that makes us all realize the realities and hardships of life that children have to face today. Sally Grindley really captivated me and I felt like I was being transported into another country while sitting in my room. I absolutely love this book, and no matter how many times I read it it remains fresh and new...
Jul 10, 2012 Lucy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those who really need an eye-opener.
Spilled Water is a great, heart-breaking tale. It's filled with hope, despair and the struggle to survival. Told through the eyes of a Chinese girl who was sold into slavery, this book will send you flipping through the pages.
Rosanne Hawke
Aug 20, 2014 Rosanne Hawke rated it really liked it
Shelves: children
A harrowing read about child trafficking and slavery set in China. This one's for a younger age level so deals with domestic and factory forced labour. There is hope.
Jenna Ackerman
Feb 13, 2014 Jenna Ackerman rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wide-reading
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Victoria Brown
Jan 03, 2015 Victoria Brown rated it it was amazing
When this was recently rediscovered during the post-Christmas clear out, I was overjoyed. This was one of my favourites as a child; it was a fascinating story about what was, for a ten year old, a completely different world. For me this story was more than a tragic tale of a Chinese girl sold practically into slavery. It was more of a story of human kindness and redemption; Lu Si-yan cannot find her family without the kindness of strangers. Such a beautifully written book; as it progress the wri ...more
Lisa Nash
Jan 06, 2017 Lisa Nash rated it liked it
I enjoyed the beginning of the book but as the story progressed I felt it was becoming a bit contrived, trying too hard to use a narrative to get across some very important issues about the treatment of girls. The character of the uncle which was so central to the story was very one dimensional and then I found it hard to believe his change in attitude. And most of the characters were either very very good or very very bad. Towards the end I found it hard going to finish the story.
Lucy Sheikh
Sep 17, 2015 Lucy Sheikh rated it it was amazing
As a mother of an daughter adopted from China, I learned a lot about expectations Chinese society has placed on girls. The vulnerability of children is often something others take advantage of in all cultures. This is a story that will also touches the hearts of anyone who is interested to know more about the plight of factory workers in China. I am glad that the story had a happy ending but my thought is that it is unlikely that a child forced to work at an early age and for unkind employers wo ...more
Dec 03, 2012 Tanja rated it really liked it
Another thought-provoking novel. A young girl's life is thrown into misery with the death of her father and her uncle selling her as a servant. The book touches on many tough issues such as child labor, exploitations through scrupulous factory owners, arranged/forced marriages, the low status of girls in some societies and poverty, making especially women and girls vulnerable. The author does an amazing job, letting the reader travel with Lu-Si Yan, feeling her anger, fear, frustrations, and she ...more
What I really hate in stories (and in real life) are retarded parents that become useless, snivelling wrecks when one of them dies or divorces. They sit around all misty-eyed, remembering the good old days and neglecting their children, who consequently suffer horribly. I'm not a motherly person, yet it makes my blood boil when I hear about such people. What's worse is when they try to act all picturesque and responsible while the going's good, but crumble into a pile of worthless dust as soon a ...more
Oct 27, 2007 Angela rated it it was ok
This book follows a girl’s struggles after she is sold into slavery to repay her family’s debt after her father’s death. The author addresses topics such as classism, sexism, and ageism through the girl’s fight to return to her village. At times, it feels like the author is forcing unlikely sequences of events together just to add social commentary. Also, maybe for that same reason, the good characters are stereotypically good, to the point of being one-dimensional. But the author does do a good ...more
Emily Burnett
Apr 26, 2013 Emily Burnett rated it it was amazing
I read this book for the first time when I was 8 years old, and it is the one book that really made me fall in love with literature. Nothing ever touched me quite like this ever again, I will forever remember it, and it will never leave my shelf. It's not just a book for kids, it is for everyone and I didn't feel like a kid reading it. Just thinking about it makes me smile again, it's heartbreaking, heartwarming, and above all for me, life changing... Something personally I will never leave behi ...more
Amerie Stinson
Dec 14, 2013 Amerie Stinson rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Amerie by: Mom
Shelves: favorite
This beautiful book is about young Lu Si Yan's struggles as her family sells her to market. Extremely thought provoking and amazing. I felt actual sympathy to poor Lu Si Yan, one of those books that make you feel a connection to the character. I praise Sally Grindley, and this is definitely a favorite. And this is something big coming from a grumpy person like me! I would recommend this to everyone. It is a real eye opener.

Final verdict: I would read again, and again, and again. A lovely and hea
Aug 02, 2011 Ella rated it liked it
Shelves: own-it, stand-alones
This book is very different to the sort of books I normally read but it was still good. It is a powerful book for a childrens that makes you think as it is set in a different country and about a girl who is sold in to slavery. It talks about her struggles and her wanting to be back with her mum and brother. The letters are quite big compared to the books I read now and this is short as it is a childrens book. A good childrens read.
Sep 19, 2011 Cassie rated it it was amazing
This book is amazin I first read it when i was maybe 10 or 11, i'm 14 now and would still re-read it! I cry everytime too! This book was a real eye-opener for me and I'm soo thankful for it! Honestly i don't think this book was exagerated conditions like this DO excist and not just 50 years ago! I would seriously recomend this book and ask everyone to pray for the people China and the hardships listed in this book and other hardships they go through.
Mar 29, 2016 Sally rated it really liked it
I remember reading this one when I was younger, along with Chinese Cinderella but it's coming back to it as an adult that the full scale of it hits you.
This book, while it may appear like a light hearted children's book, is anything but.
It explores some horrific practices such as selling young girls as brides, to the potentially horrific working practices.

And yet this book is still a really interesting and thought provoking read.
Mar 08, 2013 Rachael rated it really liked it
I learned a lot from this story about the life of a young girl in China and how difficult it becomes after her father dies. She is sold by her family to become a domestic servant to a rich family, then she runs away and works in even harsher conditions in a factory. Great characters and a happy ending make it a good story amidst the hard times.
Sep 14, 2011 Meg rated it it was amazing
Shelves: already-read
I throught the book was fantastic I chose to read this perticular book for english, it was an easier read than the others we had to choose from such as "Mao's last dancer", "Dragon keeper" and "chinese cinderella".Spilled water was great and i recomend it for ages such as year 5,6,7 and onwards.

Ryan Ward
Mar 11, 2016 Ryan Ward rated it really liked it
A children's book that deals with some heavy things (poverty, abandonment, child labor, and death of family members) but does so with a deft touch and through a narrator that imbues the story with hope, optimism, and resilience. As a result it feels like a proper but gentle treatment of these topics which kids will benefit from.
Dec 27, 2009 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 10, 2016 Grace rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
We read this book in our 6th grade classroom basically every day. The kids in my class (including me) would always beg our teacher to keep reading. The story was so inspirational, and it made me want to read more of Sally Grindley's stories. Most of the time I was mad at a character or almost crying, but to lighten the story up a bit, there was also a bit of humour that was much appreciated.
Oct 18, 2011 Kathy rated it it was amazing
Pre-viewed this for my daughter (adopted from China). Totally heart wrenching with a stroke of luck and a happy twist! I wonder how true this story is to many Chinese girls? Although it's fine for her reading level (9 years old @ 5th+ grade level), I'm going to wait until 5th or 6th grade before I let her read it due to the heart wrenching content.
Jul 17, 2012 Felicityw rated it it was amazing
I thought it was a very sad story about Lu Si-Yan being sold to a mean family apart from the grandma and the cook this is a book for a 10-60 year old if you like a sad story with a happy ending then read it.
Jan 29, 2009 Lora rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this with my 12 year old. A quick read that made her and me think about how lucky we were to not have been girls born in China 50 years ago (or even 20 years ago). Sweet story.
Marielle Newton
Oct 30, 2013 Marielle Newton rated it it was amazing
Read this book when I was about 14, couldn't remember the name of it and have been looking for it for years! This book was gripping from start to finish and a total emotional roller coaster. The plot was a real eye opener. Recommend anyone and everyone to read.
-       Sophie..(:
Jul 14, 2007 - Sophie..(: rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this, it's about a who is sold by her uncle when her father dies to bring money to the family. The story is about how she tries to return home to her family home... Read it!
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What's The Name o...: SOLVED. Book about an Asian girl who gets sold?? [s] 5 45 Jul 26, 2015 02:52AM  
What's The Name o...: NEED HELP.CHILDREN'S BOOK [s] 18 66 Apr 24, 2013 09:23AM  
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