A Girl Named Faithful Plum: The True Story of a Dancer from China and How She Achieved Her Dream by Richard Bernstein.
Originally Alfred A. Knopf, Random House, New York, 2011.
My edition Yearling, Random House Children’s Books, New York, 2012.
Middle grade (YA?) nonfiction, 272 pages.
Lexile: 1080L .
AR Level: 6.6 (worth 11.0 points) .
In 1978, an eleven year old girl traveled from her small town on the northern border of China to the Beijing Dance Academy for their open auditions, along with sixty thousand other applicants. Against all odds, she managed to be one of the twelve girls chosen – but that was just the start of her troubles.
Zhongmei spent years in training, and had a long career, but this story focuses mainly on preparing to audition and her first year at school. About half the book focuses on her journey to even make it to auditions and then her progress through the seven layers of audition. The second half covers her first year at the school, and finally an epilogue tells what happened to her after.
Bernstein employs a number of timeline skips to maintain the pacing, although he’s not always successful. His most frequent device is the letters sent back and forth between Zhongmei and her beloved da-jie Zhongqin. He also occasionally has Zhongmei think back on past events. At some points there are skips forward, when reasonable within the story.Continue reading “Review: Girl Named Faithful Plum”