The Crystal Ribbon by Celeste Lim (review)
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Reviewed by
Lim, Celeste The Crystal Ribbon. Scholastic, 2017 [352p]
ISBN 978-0-545-76703-3 $17.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4-6

In 1102, during the Northern Song Dynasty in China’s Taiyuan province, a girl named Jing is married off at eleven, in spite of her father’s hesitation, so that she won’t be a burden to her family any longer. Off she goes to care for her three-yearold husband, content enough to be his nursemaid despite his unpleasant family; however, her in-laws then sell her off to courtesans, so she embarks on an epic journey back to the home and biological family that she hopes will welcome her, should she ever make it there. This quiet, unhurried gem of a coming-of-age story is an impressive outing from debut author Lim, who uses culture, history, magic, and spirituality to explore one girl’s persistent search for a way to belong, in spite of significant odds against her. Jing’s connection with spirit animals is both comforting and helpful in practical ways, as when a spider who she aids comes back during a key moment to help her escape, and she also draws on her own significant reserve of steel, reminding herself that in spite of her lack of education and her lowly status as a poor girl, she deserves more than mere survival. Historical fiction fans will appreciate the unusual setting, and for the most part, Lim carefully keeps her characters’ actions and language firmly placed in this rural, 900-year-old Chinese setting. A brief, informative author’s note is included. [End Page 225]

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