Reviews for Circle of Cranes

Booklist Reviews 2012 May #2
Suyin, the orphaned daughter of the Crane Wife, grows up shuttled among homes in her rural Chinese village. To help make her village rich, Suyin is assigned to a garment factory in contemporary New York City after a harrowing ocean journey, but her new home is no dream come true. Conditions are harsh: she is essentially kept prisoner, wages are withheld, labor rights agitators are beaten, and the threat of being cast out and forced to join a prostitution ring is constant. But Suyin finds solace in her friends and inspiration in her Crane Sisters, who visit her when she is alone, teach her the art of embroidery, remind her that all women are sisters, and bring her along with them on magical flights where Suyin is tempted to become a crane herself. Though Suyin rises out of servitude, she has friends who are not so lucky. Inspired by the folktale "The Crane Wife," this novel engagingly melds an immigrant story with folklore and fantasy, broadening its potential readership. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
Chosen by her Chinese village to seek wealth in New York, thirteen-year-old Suyin endures a horrific journey followed by the brutality of working in a sweatshop. Meanwhile, she is determined to prove herself worthy of the Crane Women Clan, an ancient and powerful sisterhood. This modern-day story of illegal immigration and human rights is somewhat confusingly blended with a supernatural element based on legend.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 February #1
The horror of sweatshop life is alleviated by a magical heritage. Suyin doesn't want to go to America, but the people of her romanticized, 21st-century Chinese village want someone who can send American dollars back to fund schools and electricity. Almost immediately, it becomes clear that the smuggler bringing her to Gold Mountain is a liar. She's not traveling on a cruise ship with "first-class accommodations [and] twelve-course banquets" but on a "rickety rust bucket" too small for the passengers and unsafe for the open ocean. The perilous journey Suyin makes with her fellow passengers, mostly other girls, doesn't end with safety. When they arrive in New York City, the girls spend 14-hour-days in an overheated sweatshop. Meanwhile, Suyin tries to be worthy of her crane ancestors, who tell her in visions and dreams that she is the last crane princess; without her help, the magical crane women are doomed. Can she be worthy of both the cranes, who need a savior to rescue their queen from the netherworld, and her fellow laborers, who need a leader to demand eight months of unpaid wages? The confusing worldbuilding is a mashup of careful details about some of China's ethnic minorities combined willy-nilly with elements from other eras, other parts of China and vast oversimplifications. Inexplicably, Suyin's magical heritage comes from a Japanese folk tale. The magical element doesn't add much to this story of a low-key labor heroine, but it may draw in fantasy readers. (Fantasy. 10-13) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2012 May

Gr 7-10--On his deathbed, Suyin's grandfather, angry at his dead daughter-in-law, demands that the child be forbidden to learn embroidery, despite the fact that as a member of the Miao minority group in Guizhou Province, China, her worth as a woman is based on her skills with a needle. When her village chooses the 13-year-old to be smuggled to America, she feels even more rejected. After a treacherous voyage in the cargo hold of a ship, she ends up in a New York sweatshop, working to pay off her debt to the smugglers. What keeps her going is her desire to prove her worth to the Sisterhood of Cranes--a secret society of women who can transform into birds and keep the world of people and nature connected. Suyin's tribulations offer a glimpse into the horrifying world of human trafficking and sweatshops. Her time with the Sisterhood balances the horror of her daily life and gives her strength to help with the garment workers' strike, which leads to a tidier and happier ending than most children with paths similar to Suyin's experience. While many elements of the narrative structure and story will appeal to younger readers, the brutality and violence that the girl endures, especially as a friend takes a job at a seedy massage parlor, requires more mature readers.--Jennifer Rothschild, Prince George's County Memorial Library System, Oxon Hill, MD

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