The day twelve-year-old Clara finds a desperate note in a purse in Bellman's department store, she is still reeling from the death of her adopted sister, Lola.
By that day, thirteen-year-old Yuming has lost hope that the note she stashed in the purse will ever be found. She may be stuck sewing in the pale pink factory outside of Beijing forever.
Clara grows more and more convinced that she was meant to find Yuming's note. Lola would have wanted her to do something about it. But how can Clara talk her parents, who are also in mourning, into going on a trip to China?
Finally the time comes when Yuming weighs the options, measures the risk, and attempts a daring escape.
Like Brian's Lucky T, this book is a little far fetched but rather interesting. Yuming's plight is fascinating-- a girl from a poor but hardworking family is kidnapped from a local park and kept locked up in a factory to make purses. This is certainly an important story that needs to be brought to the attention of young readers in the U.S., and this book, like Schroeder's Saraswati's Way or D'Adamo's Iqbal, is a good way to do this, since it contrasts Clara's life with that of Yuming's.
This also is on trend for the level of sadness found in middle grade literature. As in Shang's What Home Looks Like Now or Appelt's Maybe a Fox, Clara is struggling with her sister's death and working out her own way to move forward.