In honor of the Chinese New Year, today's recommendation is a terrific look at life in 19th century China.
First and foremost, this is a story of friendship. It is also an incredibly detailed snapshot of a culture. The four pages that portray the agony of her first footbinding session will shock you to your core. The writing is impeccable , rich and layered and overflowing with emotional depth. The lives of the two main characters were all together normal for the time and the region, and yet so wholly out of the norm for today's reader. It is both a must-read on the small scale of watching someone's life unfold, and on the grand scale of watching the Chinese culture evolve.