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Ties That Bind, Ties That Break

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  2,899 ratings  ·  306 reviews
Third Sister in the Tao family, Ailin has watched her two older sisters go through the painful process of having their feet bound. In China in 1911, all the women of good families follow this ancient tradition. But Ailin loves to run away from her governess and play games with her male cousins. Knowing she will never run again once her feet are bound, Ailin rebels and refu ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published November 14th 2000 by Laurel Leaf (first published 1999)
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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  2,899 ratings  ·  306 reviews

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Julie S.
Jul 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This young Chinese girl decides that she did not want to have her feet painfully bound, going against tradition. This novel takes us through her struggles and accomplishments that come as a result of this choice.

The main character was strong, so I found myself rooting for her quite early in the book. It is always nice to see strong female characters.

It was very interesting to see a book that dealt with Chinese culture without mocking it or being over-awed at it. This seem
Interesting era and topic - young girl growing up in 1920s China asserting her independence in a paternalistic society and later moving to San Francisco with her American missionary employers. Unfortunately, the plot and prose are rather simplistic and lacking in details beyond basic historical facts. It’s pretty short. Probably targeting a teenaged audience more.

Pleasant narration.
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Ties That Bind, Ties That Break
By: Paige Y.
The title of my book is Ties That Bind, Ties That Break by Lensey Namioka. This book is definitely something worth reading, and I recommend this to anyone who loves reading historical fiction. The three main reasons I would recommend this book is one it gives the reader a different perspective of religion and how unreasonable or harsh it may be. Two, it is a very moving story with lots of detail that make it easy to follow. Three, it is very
I remember reading this and being shocked, I had no idea that this happened. It's been awhile since I've read this, but it has stuck with me. I definitely need to re-read it.
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Ties That Bind, Ties That Break
By: Jessica L
The title of my book is Ties That Bind, Ties That Break. This book is written by Lensey Namioka. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction. The three main reasons why I would recommend this book are that the book was very emotional and moving, there were many adventures and struggles the characters go though, and lastly the storyline was very inspiring.
A very emotional time in the book was when the father
Dec 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Linda Lipko
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, young-adult
This book represents many things that I love about Young Adult fiction. There is depth of feeling, a large coming of age component, and a seriousness about the subject matter that is relative to all generations.

The setting is China in 1917 when there were incredibly strict social and cultural rules of tradition.
Wise beyond her age, high-spirited, spunky and stubborn five year old Allin is a member of a wealthy family wherein marriages are arranged according to socioeconomic sta
W.H. Beck
Jul 01, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fl-ya
Ailin, the third daughter of a wealthy Chinese family in Nanjing in 1911, is smart, headstrong, and slightly spoiled. When she is five, she fights at having her feet bound. Her mother and grandmother are horrified, while her older sister is sympathetic. Her father surprises them all.

"Ailin doesn't have to have her feet bound if she doesn't want it."

"She's too young to understand the consequences," said Mother.

"But I understand the consequences," said Father.

Indeed, her father
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sophie Kaster
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book was not my favorite of all of the books I have read. I got bored while reading it and it was hard for me to read. Not because it was too advanced and hard to comprehend, just because it was boring. This book was about a girl who didn't get her feet bound. If you didn't know footbinding is when you break your toes and other foot bones to make them be very small. The reason for this is to show you are going to be married. Since she did not get her foot bound it led to some different prob ...more
Oct 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
This book is about the foot bindings in ancient China. Long ago when a girl was still very young she would have her foot bound. Foot binding was a tradition that crippled girls, but small feet was considered fashionable. If your feet were unbound you were looked down upon since only girls who were farmers or very poor had unbound feet. With unbound feet you were garanteed to not make a good marriage. In this book it tells the story of a girl named Tao Ailin who refused to have her feet bound. Ta ...more
Hannah Rose
Mar 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is a beautiful, poetic book. I read this in my early teens when I was really into Asian culture, and was so in love with Ailin, the brave girl who refuses to have her feet bound, but only years later when I re-read it I understood how respectfully and delicately the author deals with this very controversial issue. It's never about being disrespectful to a culture, it's about a young girl who loves to run around and be free.
Sarah F
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
Read this with an advanced ESL class. I would not say that it is in any way a work of art; if anything, it's poorly written, all the characters two-dimensional, and the plot thin and at times confusing. However, my students (mostly Chinese) found it accessible and they certainly had plenty to say during discussions about the topics in the story. I don't even want to have to read it again, but I would use it again for class.
Jaylin Saunders
Nov 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a very good book. I honestly dont see much wrong with the book. Maybe at the end there could have been something telling about what with her friends and family and how their future turned out for them. If you want a book where it is "Man vs. Society" then this book is for you.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Teenage Reads
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Teenagers and Adults
Ailin, five years old, was ready for her engagement. Ailin was the youngest, with First Sister already married, Second Sister on the countdown, Ailin was Miss. Three, who ran around the yard, made fun of her slow cousins and wanted to know about the world. Her engagement was to seven-year-old Hanwei, with his high eyebrows who, even after just meeting her, tried to teach Ailin English. There was one problem. Mrs. Lin, an old family friend, would not let her son marry a girl with unbou
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I originally download this novel because it revolves heavily around the tradition of foot binding, one that I know very little about. The main character, Eileen, shows reluctance towards having her own bound, which catapults her life on a completely different path from what she ever could have imagined. She is resilient and marches to her own drum beat, always facing whatever may come.


I found myself relating to Eileen on
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elizabeth  Tan
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
**Warning: this text may contain spoilers** It is a wonderful book on a girl named Ailin (aka Eileen) who refuses to have her feet bound, hence causing her engagement to be broken by her fiancé's mother. I love how this book shows the challenges Ailin had to face as a result of her unbound feet and how it managed to shape her character from a spoiled girl to a determined, hardworking and resilient woman, who is willing to work hard for her dreams to become a chef. I also enjoyed the ending, wher ...more
In this fictionalized account of a third daughter in a traditional Chinese family in the early 20th Century, Ailin refuses to have her feet bound. Usually a painful procedure which renders the girl virtually without mobility, it is said to have been attractive to men and therefore more easily to attract a wealthy husband.

Ailin’s father is her biggest supporter, but when he dies, her Uncle looks upon her unfavorably. His decision for her future comes with dire consequences. Through a luck of fat
Danielle DuPuis
I really enjoyed this one - quick read, but I wish there was more. I was completely absorbed in the story of Ailin and how she defies her family's wishes of having her feet bound. Her father sides with her and eventually allows her to attend public school and learn English. Her mother and grandmother think of her as a disgrace for not having her feet bound, but thankfully she is supported by her father until he isn't able to support her anymore (I don't want to give away too much here). Her stor ...more
Jane Gomez
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I rate "Ties That Bind, Ties That Break" with a 5-start rating in the context of a YA book. However, that is not to diminish the appeal to an adult reader who is interested in the concept of binding the feet of women. This tradition of foot-binding is perhaps unique to China but other traditions used around the world serve the same purpose; to keep women in a position of weakness and submission to men. I found it invigorating and encouraging to see the protagonist's desire to fight tradition (ac ...more
Missy Maxwell
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I can't believe this.
I knew that foot-binding was a fashionable Chinese tradition for women, much like corsets, but I didn't really realize quite how disturbing and popular it was.
This book gave me so much insight on Chinese culture and traditions.
The main character really had some girl power!
I was disturbed a lot in this book and it highlights a lot of Chinese societies' problems, but also societies' problems in general.
It also showed the importance of change.
All in all the
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting book! This is the story of Ailin growing up in China in the time when foot binding was common and women were seen as a liability to their families. By being spoiled by her father, Ailin was lucky enough to avoid the foot binding but then must deal with the consequences of not conforming to traditions. Her marriage arrangement is broken by his family and she is shunned and ridiculed by many people in her country. Ailin's spirit and will carries her through life until she finds a p ...more
Dana O.
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this because I thought it might be a cool supplementary book to our unit on Ancient China. This story details the life of a girl caught in the era between dynasties and the republic. Important references throughout to various elements of a dynamic and storied culture up though the Qing dynasty. I loved following all of the internal struggles our main character had in embracing her ancestry but also being true to herself, a conflict that many can relate to. Great read for tweens and teens.
Maria E.
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, 2017
I enjoyed this book. I loved getting to know more about Chinese history and the terrible practice of foot binding. I loved how a strong, bold little girl rebelled and was able to see that it was an injustice that women should be subjected to the submission and physical pain that foot binding causes and was willing to work extra hard to revolt and change the ways of her culture.
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’m glad I took the time out from my current book to read this one. “Ties That Bind. Ties That Break.” is an inspiring YA story that’s suitable for an inquisitive mind of any age. There are quite a lot of interesting insights here into the family dynamic in China during early 20th century, specifically regarding the practice of foot binding.
Dec 10, 2017 rated it liked it
One of the high school AK Battle of the Books selections. I read this on the recommendation of my daughter. Historical fiction about a young Chinese girl who resisted old traditions and bravely fought to create her own destiny.
Hunter Spuntak
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was a excellent book for a younger teenager like myself

I recommend this book to truly anyone who knows good books
It was also a great learning experience for me to learn about how they use to do it in China.

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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Ties that Bind Related Books? 1 2 Jul 09, 2015 08:37AM  
Ulyssa 5 7 Jan 08, 2015 07:22PM  
Eunice 3 4 Oct 16, 2014 08:33PM  
Oscar 2 2 Oct 16, 2014 08:30PM  
Savannac 1 1 Oct 16, 2014 08:18PM  
Stephanieh 5 5 Oct 12, 2014 10:27PM  
Ailin's marriage 3 6 Oct 12, 2014 10:26PM  

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Namioka was born in Beijing, the daughter of linguist Yuenren Chao and physician Buwei Yang Chao. The family moved often in China. In 1937, the Chaos were living in Nanjing, and fled westward in the face of the Japanese Invasion. They eventually made their way to Hawaii, then Cambridge, Massachusetts. Namioka attended grade school in Cambridge and excelled at mathematics.

Namioka attend
“She’ll be five soon,’’ said Mother. ‘‘Most girls have it done even earlier. When Mrs. Liu saw Ailin the other day, she was shocked that her feet were still unbound. She also remarked on how spirited Ailin was. In other words, she found her spoiled and uncontrollable. Having Ailin’s feet bound would stop her from running around like a boy.’’ I looked at Little Brother, who was tottering up to a pot of chrysanthemums. In a few years he would be able to run around just like my cousins. Why was it all right for boys to run around but not for me? Father sighed. ‘‘Why can’t we wait a few years before deciding on the match with the Lius? I’ve never been keen on these early engagements.’’ He smiled. ‘‘Our marriage wasn’t arranged until you were fourteen, and it hasn’t turned out so badly, has it?” 2 likes
“Then I carefully dipped my brush and wrote the characters for family, country, and book. When the examiner smiled, I knew he liked my work, so I decided to write the hardest character I knew, which was the one for virtue. It took fifteen strokes.” 1 likes
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