‘You have to come home, Big Sister!’ shouted the little girl. ‘Our father wants you. Now!’ The command made Su-Yin’s heart hammer in her chest. What have I done? she wondered. She suddenly felt dizzy. She seldom got enough to eat these days. Her father had been forced to mortgage the farm to a wealthy landowner in order to pay off gambling debts, and now the Chen family were tenant farmers, working for a pittance.
Life on the family farm is difficult and getting worse, but Su-Yin is still stunned when her family sell her into slavery. She makes a new friend on the journey up the Yangtze River to Nanjing, but they are soon separated when Su-Yin is bought to work in the kitchen of a wealthy Manchu official. Su-Yin is relatively fortunate in her new home. Although the cook is grumpy, Su-Yin is taught a trade and treated well. When the city is attacked by Taiping soldiers, Su-Yin flees with the young daughter of the family. It is a dangerous thing to do, and if she is caught, the consequences will be dire.
Fourth in Susan Geason’s historical series, Rebel Girl is set in nineteenth century China. As in the previous offerings, Geason offers a detailed look into a world unfamiliar to most young readers. Thirteen year-old Su-Yin is a sensible and strong-willed girl in a difficult situation. She is both accepting of her fate and determined to make the best of her challenging life. She works hard and is rewarded with the respect of her boss. Su-Yin shows great courage and resourcefulness when the Taiping army invades the city. This is a fast-moving, action-packed adventure, recommended for 8-12 year old readers.
Rebel Girl, by Susan Geason
ABC Books 2007