Many kids throughout mankind’s history have thought about running away from home for one reason or another. Sometimes that reason can be that kid is being abused, their family has major financial trouble or even as petty as not getting that one toy. Gloria Whelan has a story like that called Chu Ju’s house.
Chu Ju is just a normal girl living in a tiny village somewhere in China. Her mom is about to give birth and it had better be a boy since not only does China have a law that says people in the country are only allowed two kids (city one,) but boys are more highly valued than girls. It’s a girl and her parents are thinking about selling her off. Chu Ju figures the best thing to do is to run away, have her family try to have a boy again and Chu Ju tries to live her own life.
This was a rather enjoyable story. The main reason is wanting to know how Chu Ju was going to survive in a country where girls with no family are SOLD to sweatshops, prostitution or as wives for foreigners. Sadly, she did kind of have a pretty easy time alone. Granted, she had to work hard, but everyone she meets except for two treated her like family. Call me a realist, but I expect at least one person to get suspicious.
On the other hand, Chu Ju does show that she is a lot smarter than she lets on. She does lie about her skills but learns fast enough to stay with that family. That’s why Chu Ju is an endearing character, she adapts to her situation which is a great lesson to teach kids. Even the ending is a nice lesson and comes across as a realistic scenario.
Of course, some people have accused Whelan of not understanding Chinese laws. Yes, laws are complicated, but this is a book for young readers and you do need to simplify some things so as to not get in the way of the story.
Chu Ju’s House may be simple, but it is heartwarming. Chu Ju is an interesting character as are her adventures and the ending is great. This is well worth reading if you can get past whatever inconsistencies in China’s laws and culture.
Tags: Chu Ju's House, Gloria Whelan, YA Novels
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