The Paper Daughters of Chinatown
Adapted for Young Readers from the Best-Selling Novel
by Heather B. Moore; Allison Hong Merrill
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Pub Date 11 Apr 2023 | Archive Date 25 Apr 2023
Shadow Mountain Publishing, Shadow Mountain
When Tai Choi leaves her home in the Zhejiang province of China, she believes she’ll be visiting her grandmother. But in truth, despite her mother’s opposition, her father has sold her to pay his gambling debts. Alone and afraid, Tai Choi is put on a ship headed for San Francisco, known among the Chinese as Gold Mountain. When she arrives, she is forced to go by the new name listed on her paper documents: Tien Fu Wu.
Her new life as a servant at a gambling den is hard. She is told to stay hidden, to stay silent, and to perform an endless list of chores, or else she will be punished. Tien Fu thinks her life couldn’t get any worse, until she is sold again to an abusive shopkeeper and tasked to care for a young boy. If she is to survive, Tien Fu must persevere, and learn who to trust.
When Dolly Cameron arrives in San Francisco to teach sewing at a mission home for orphaned Asian girls, she meets Tien Fu, who is willful, defiant, and unwilling to trust anyone. Dolly quickly learns that all the girls at the home were freed from lives of servitude and maltreatment. Dolly immediately joins the group of women dedicated to saving more of these “paper daughters” because some in authority have turned a blind eye to the situation.
Despite many challenges, Dolly and Tien Fu forge a powerful friendship as they mentor and help those in the mission home and work to win the freedom of thousands of immigrant women and girls.
"Compelling and impactful. The authors convey Tai Choi's strength and determination throughout the novel. Would make an excellent novel study to support ELA classrooms."—ChildrensLit.com
Reviews from the original adult edition:
"During the 1800s, many Chinese immigrants in California worked for gold mining companies or the railroads and sent money home to their families. Prostitution proliferated in this mostly male society, aided by a loophole in the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act that led to the trafficking of young Chinese women. These "paper daughters" were given false paperwork asserting that they were married or related to a Chinese man working in the U.S.; when they arrived, they were sold into slavery as prostitutes. In San Francisco, the Occidental Mission Home was established to provide refuge and education for these women. Donaldina "Dolly" Cameron was originally hired to teach sewing for a year, but she ended up staying for almost four decades, mostly serving as superintendent. Moore focuses her extensively researched historical novel on Dolly's first 13 years at the home as she evolves from an ambivalent outsider to a passionate advocate leading dangerous raids, testifying in court, and rescuing more than 3,000 trafficked women. Dolly's story unfolds alongside, and ultimately merges with, that of Mei Lien, a paper daughter who leaves her impoverished mother for what she believes is an arranged marriage in America, but upon arrival is enslaved. Recommend to fans of compelling, character-driven historical fiction inspired by true events, such as Lisa Wingate's Before We Were Yours (2017). YAs will be drawn to the dramatic stories of the young Chinese women brought to America." —Booklist, starred review
"Despite the disturbing subject matter, meticulously researched book is unputdownable. The book is as much a history lesson about a shameful piece of American history as it is a glimpse into the life of a heroine whose legacy lives on today: the mission home is still in existence, renamed the Donaldina Cameron House. Readers will come to care about all the women featured in the book and will marvel at the extraordinary accomplishments of a determined woman ahead of her time. Based on true events...Fascinating." —Historical Novel Society
"Many readers will find Dolly's bravery and commitment to her faith inspirational, and Moore's impressively detailed research makes this a good introduction to this often neglected chapter in American history." —Library Journal
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 96 members
I've read the adult version of this book, and wondered how they were going to adapt it, since so much of the content is disturbing: trafficking, forced prostitution, and all kinds of unimaginable mistreatment. I think the authors did a good job. They concentrated on one 6 year old girl being sold by her father to pay gambling debts, and follow her to America where she is sold several times more to work as a cleaner, cook, and babysitter. (The original book was quite a bit more graphic describing some of the girls' situations.) They do mention prostitution and bordellos in passing, but most of the references to opium are left out. This is an aspect of history that is unfamiliar to many, and it will be a good addition to historical fiction collections for teen readers. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.
I'm going to have to read the adult version of this novel. I was very moved by the real life people written about here.. How they endured so much but still were able to have some happiness in their life in the end.
It just breaks my heart that these poor girls and women had to endure so much.
I think the subject matter of this is very important. However, I don't think it translates well into teen fiction. The language was a bit too naive and simplistic. It's hard to describe. I really thought I was reading a middle grade except for the mentions of prostitution.
Thank you to NetGalley for the advance digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
“The Paper Daughters of Chinatown” is a juvenile level adaptation of the historical novel of the same name by Heather B. Moore, written by the original author and Allison Hong Merrill. It retells the historical story of Tien Fu Wu a girl sold by her father to brokers in America and Dolly Cameron a teacher at a mission home in San Francisco who rescue orphaned Chinese girls from their “owners”. While I felt like the book sometimes moved at too fast a pace to include all of its plot points, I still thought the adaptation for a younger audience was well done. Difficult topics like abuse, prostitution, and slavery are described and discussed in age appropriate terms and with honesty. The book tries to center the experiences of the Chinese girls, especially Tien Fu and does not veer into praising Miss Cameron and her fellow mission workers as a white saviors. One of the minor character is shown to have this mentality and is condemned by the characters for her views. Tien Fu and Dolly’s relationship was very touching. Tien Fu overcomes the traumas of her past with Dolly’s kind and understanding mentorship and together they go on to save even more young Chinese women. I believe this book can be enjoyed by young and old readers and sheds light on a part of lesser known American history.
Well written, excellent story. Very interesting plot and topic that is under written about. For the atrocities these women and children went through coming to the US, often against their will, this is an under reported topic. Or at least one I had not previously ever read about. I appreciated how this book discussed difficult things in an easy to understand way that wasn’t graphic or unnecessary in its depiction and got the point across. Good for ages middle school and older. Great historical value in reading this for all ages great book. Thank you NetGalley for the chance to read an early copy.
The Paper Daughters of Chinatown is an excellent story for middle grade and young adult readers. It tells the sad history of the Chinese girls brought to America after being stolen or sold by their families, but it also tells of the courage, compassion, and strength of the girls themselves and the people who worked to help them.
The primary character, Tien Fu, is very young when her father sells her into slavery. Many younger readers will relate to her innocence, fear, and obedience to her captors. As she ages into a teenager, young adult readers will understand her resentment, anger, and inability to trust. Her growth and healing are inspiring and resilient, and she is a heroine for readers to emulate.
The secondary protagonist, Donaldina Cameron, is a heroic figure and one readers should learn about. She shows her courage and doubt, her strength and fear, but her growth is clear and encouraging.
Overall, this story is carefully written to appeal to readers of different ages. Issues like prostitution, forced marriage, and sexual abuse are suggested without being described in detail, so even younger readers can learn from this story, while older readers will be able to understand the gravity and horror of the stories.
This story could be used in a study of Chinese immigration, Chinese-American history, or reformers, while older students could be encouraged to research the era, laws, and real-life characters from the story to deepen their knowledge. The authors have done an outstanding job of creating a story that is factual and enthralling, relatable, and inspiring.
Loved both versions of this book .. well written and hard topic to cover ..but loved the story line and how the author told the story …. I would definitely recommend this book to others to read ..
This was something I unfortunately knew very little about going in. At the same time, it's not surprising the torturous treatment these girls were given at the hands of these grotesque individuals. Because throughout history what is always ignored is how to treat people like the humans they are. It's also not surprising how little info about these things is shared and taught. Reading this story about the brave woman who helped save these enslaved girls was truly heartwrenching and had me hooked the entire time. Terrified to come to the end but honored to have learned a story not many know. Including myself at the start. It shows that just one person can make a difference and better the lives of those who have been hurt.
Tien Fu was sold into slavery to pay off her father's debts. The girl ends up in San Francisco, where after months of hard work as a mui tsai, she was taken to a mission house, where she meets Donaldine Cameron.
In Paper Daughters of Chinatown, the authors decided to touched a tough episode in the history of the USA and China. The story of young Chinese women taken to the United States and sold into indentured slavery or forced into prostitution is not widely known and often discussed. Heather Moore and Allison Hong Merrill decided to make work even harder for themselves by targeting children and younger teens. I think they did a pretty good job of adapting the story to the sensibilities of younger readers. I also have to commend the inclusion of an extensive bibliography at the end of the book to encourage further education on the subject. However, I have a problem with the flow of the narrative. While reading Paper daughters, I had the impression that this is not a full story, or even a fragment of a longer story, but a collection of scenes in which certain elements of the characters' biographies must appear. I also have a problem with Donaldine Cameron's character creation. The authors do not manage to avoid presenting a missionary as the white saviour.
As a historical fiction that’s supposed to introduce the young reader to this topic, I would recommend it.
I had already read The Paper Daughters of Chinatown, and I was so excited to see the version for young readers! I thought this was beautifully adapted for a younger audience. It handled hard topics with age-level appropriateness. The stories of Dolly and Tien Fu are so inspirational.
I definitely recommend this book as a historical fiction to teach young people about this time period.
Thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing, NetGalley, and the authors for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest opinions.
Thank you to the publisher for giving me a free copy in exchange for an honest review!
I really really enjoyed this book, not only was it interesting to read through the eyes of a 7 year old girl but it was also mesmerising to read about the slave trade in China and America, how social standards of beauty are perceived in different countries (the foot binding in the beginning) and the character decelopment in this book was simply amazing too.
I especially loved the ending, without spoiling anything I loved the full circle kind of moment in the ending and I was very content with it since I felt like it fit well for the end of the book itself.
The Paper Daughters of Chinatown follows the lives of the young girls and women who were either kidnapped or sold into slavery by their families in China and their subsequent lives of hardship as slaves or sex workers in the San Francisco area in the 1850's. There is a devoted group of missionaries who live and work in the area where most of these girls end up working. Their mission is to rescue these young women, teach them to read and write not only in English, but in their native languages as well and prepare them for a trade as seamstresses or household help. The work is not easy and it is also dangerous as those who "own" the girls will stop at nothing to retrieve their "property" and yet, the home continues to intervene to save these poor souls. This reads more like a script for a Ken Burn's documentary/docudrama than a novel. Only a few of the characters are truly fleshed out and the prejudice of the home's second Director is never explained. Some of the "escaping the bad guys" scenes could easily belong in a modern day action movie and raise some doubts as to the feasibility of leaping from rooftop to rooftop wearing the long, full skirts of the day while carrying an unconscious girl. Although an interesting part of history, it would have been better as a fully researched work of non-fiction.
A tale that resonated deeply with me. I was very curious to read this and it took me several days to finish this. Beautiful, well written and researched. I am thankful to Netgalley and the publishers for sharing me the e arc.
I already loved this book but I think I might love this more. This version crafts a story for any reader to follow but still captures the feeling of it.
I was curious how this topic of atrocities experienced by young Chinese girls and women would be adapted for young readers, but was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this poignant story. Human trafficking is a sensitive and timely topic, and the book was perfect for its audience without too much graphic details but enough to get the point across. Sometimes these types of historical novels tend to get bogged down by too much detail, but the story was a good mix of fact and fiction and progressed at a good pace. I usually judge a book by how much emotion I feel as I read it, and I found myself crying both sad and happy tears as I read about the plight of these poor, helpless girls and those trying to help them.
A fascinating read on a topic that I knew very little about. Even though pitched for a younger age group, I know some of my Sixth Forners would love to.immerse themselves in this
My thoughts :
I am completely satisfied reading the book.It's the story of humanity taking over greed.Tai Choi was sold by her own father saying it's the journey to her Granny's house.That's the time when her world turned upside down.The progresses with the struggles of her life in this cruel world along with her friend. They both aim to rescue the immigrants stuck in San Fransisco. The fact that the book is inspired from a true story saddens my heart.I am thrilled with the writer's magic of putting emotions in each words.This os basically an adaptation for young readers out there.I must appreciate the way thus sensitive topics were presented in an age appropriate manner.Must read!!
TW: Hint of SA, Child trafficking, human trafficking, slavery, abuse, trauma and more
First time exposed to this history, and this was, like much history, uncomfortable and shocking to think it happened. I know how much was left out as this is a young reader's book; it is a startling introduction to the pain and truth of history, but necessary!
I genuinely think it did a good job. The narrative captures a child's innocent mind, and seeing through Tai Choi's perspective to the darker sides honestly leaves you in dread and rage because you know what is happening and want to protect them.
Highly recommend it, and now I must read the original version!
What a story! This is the middle school version of the adult novel by the same name. The story follows a young girl who was sold by her family to become a 'paper daughter' of Chinatown. The story flows well and isn't too graphic for readers but does provide enough details to break your heart for the girls who were put into this horrible positions and make you so angry at the adults that used and abused them. It was wonderful to read about the true heroes who took in and literally rescued these girls from dangerous situations risking their lives! A very good read into a dark history not widely discussed. My only complaint is there are no pictures. I had to go online after reading to look up these amazing women because they are truly remarkable!
When I requested the ARC, I had no clue as to what the title signified. But after having read the story, I am able to appreciate it a lot and connect with it deeply.
This character-driven story is aptly supported by lucid narration. I have not read the original work, but this adaptation is perfectly suited for the target readers. The vocabulary and handling of sensitive topics like trafficking, child abuse, slavery, prostitution, etc are age appropriate and are not too graphic in description.
It also gives detailed insight into Chinese culture, e.g., foot binding as the accepted definition of beauty, poor economic conditions, and social disparity.
There are a few bits that seem unbelievable and sensationalised, but that doesn’t dampen the overall tone of the book.
Thanks to Shadow Mountain Publishing via NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC of this novel. All opinions expressed are my own.
The Paper Daughters of Chinatown is an informative, powerful and inspiring story. Readers who like historical fiction and true stories will enjoy this book a lot. It is a good resource for creating awareness of a relatively unknown aspect of history.
Wordsopedia Rating 4/5
I haven’t read the adult version of this book, so I can’t compare the two versions, but after reading the young reader edition, I’m interested in seeing what the adult edition has to offer. The story is one that most young readers (and probably adult readers as well - myself included) won’t be familiar with, so I spent some time doing side dig research while I read the book. The characters fell a little flat for me and, at times, I felt like important pieces of the story might be missing. I also felt that the writing style was forced - like an adult book writer trying too hard to write for the younger audience. I think the potential is there, but it missed the mark for me. That being said, I do think it will make a good addition to any classroom library.
Thank you Netgalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
I haven't read the original source material, but i think this adaptation was arranged beautifully. The characters and the pacing are spot on, and the story of Tien Fu is so inspirational for everyone. I think this book is a great starting point for young readers to learn about slavery and those kind of sensible topics.
I would recommend The Paper daughters of Chinatown to anyone who's interested in a both deep and fast paced historical fiction book!
“The Paper Daughters of Chinatown” is based on a true story. Tai Choi thought she was boarding a ship to visit her grandmother and found out that she had been sold to pay her father’s gambling debts. She was being shipped to San Francisco to a place the Chinese called Gold Mountain along with several other girls. These young girls had their names changed when they arrived in San Francisco. Tai Choi had her name changed to Tien Fu Wu, she was not happy about this at all, how would her family ever find her? At six years old she is determined to escape and return to China on the next boat. The highbinder, Xiu Gan Lai, never lets Tai Choi out of her sight. Tien Fu Wu is sold several times. She is sold to an abusive shop owner. Two women came to the shop and noticed the marks of abuse on Tien Fu Wu’s face and arms. They return later with Officer Cook. Tien Fu Wu is scared to go with them so Officer Cook carries Tien Fu Wu out of the shop to the Mission home. Life for Tien at the Mission Home is not easy, she has a lot of emotions to work through. Miss Cameron never gave up on Tien even though Tien did not make things easy for her. Tien would help take care of other young girls who were rescued.
I appreciate the research that went into the writing of this story. Reader Questions and Answers, and the Selected Bibliography and Recommended Reading gives you other places to read about how the Young Chinese girls and women were forced into these horrible conditions and how the Mission Home helped thousands to a better life.
I was given an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley for an honest review.
Tai Choi leaves her home at six years old thinking that she was taking an exciting trip to visit her grandma. However, this was only a made up story to cover up the fact that her father sold her to pay for his gambling debts. Tai Choi is exchanged and sold by different owners, eventually arriving in San Francisco as Tien Fu Wu.
Dolly arrives at the mission home from her ranch in San Gabriel Valley to teach the girls living there how to sew. Despite the danger from the gangs, she continues to go out into Chinatown to rescue the enslaved girls and protect them with the strong, unwavering love of a mother.
Tien Fu and Dolly have vast differences in their experiences, but they share the same determination to help the girls. I am captivated by their bravery and strength, to be driven by kindness despite knowing the perils is something that I admire so much. I am glad that this novel has been adapted for young readers, so that they too can learn this story and history and feel the strength of these women emanating from the pages.
This is a adaptation targeted for a younger audience.It is based on a true story. Tai Choi thought she was boarding a ship to visit her grandmother, but instead is sold into slavery to pay her father’s debts. This was 130 years ago, but tragically human trafficking still appears everywhere in the world today. I appreciate the research that went into in the story, but I just thought the ending was a little disjointed and wish it focused more on Tai Choi and the other girls, instead of the rescuers. I thought the adaptation on these heavy topics targeted for a younger audience was well done.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the Arc in exchange for a honest review.
4/5 stars! I really appreciate that the authors wanted to find a way to make a difficult topic more palatable and accessible to young minds. Learning about the realities of the slave bi-continental slave trade was hard to swallow, but the authors did a good job of making it engaging and leaving room for hope. Having the main POV be such a young character was also a great choice and it kept me rooting for her throughout.
I received an advance review copy for free through NetGalley, and I am leaving this review voluntarily
“Despite many challenges, Dolly and Tien Fu forge a powerful friendship as they mentor and help those in the mission home and work to win the freedom of thousands of immigrant women and girls.”
The impact this book has given me? Brave mc is always been my favorite character in every book and this one is one of it! Also the content or theme in this book is so heavy like it’s unimaginable to put into this perrfect book! The author really puts so much in it and it was bery much explain how good this book is. EXCELLENT n brilliant!!
Thank you to NetGalley for the advance digital copy in exchange for an honest review!
Many thanks to Shadow Mountain Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC!!
Born to a once-wealthy family that has fallen on hard times due to her father's gambling addiction, Tai Choi is sold to traffickers under the guise of being sent to live with her grandparents. After being forced to change her name to Tien Fu Wu under the threat of punishment, Tien is forced to work long hours in a brothel before being sold as a live-in nanny and general caregiver to the son of an abusive woman. However, she is saved by the Mission Home For Girls in San Franciso. While there, she learns English, sewing, and cooking with the other girls, while also learning how to care for the girls and women rescued from the tong, or Chinese gangs. This novel tells the tale of Tien Fu Wu and Ms. Cameron as they mature in their roles and help the Chinese and Japanese girls that are sold into servitude.
At the time of my request, I didn't know that this was an adaptation of a longer novel that was originally for mature readers due to the nature of its contents (trafficking, abuse, slavery, racism, and prostitution) and edited to be available for younger readers. That being said, at times I did feel that the pacing was a bit off in the way that things were handled, but then again, this book was edited for younger readers, so a lot of the more intense bits that fleshed out the story were removed or condensed, so I can't really be annoyed by that. However, the story is a very riveting and at times, heart-wrenching story, but it is one of endurance and the compassion of the human soul. I fell in love with Tai Choi/Tien Fu Wu because, despite all of her hardships and the savagery that she endured from people, she still retained her determined and passionate nature, which I felt helped her in her calling. For someone who was sent thousands of miles from her home and whose history tells us that she never ended up seeing her family again, she remains stalwart and resilient, which embodies the spirit of the women who endured the trips from China to the United States and made this country work for them.
I would definitely recommend this book for middle-grade readers as it seems to be on par with what they should be reading and learning about at their age, while not dumping them into some of the deeper cruelties of the world.
I have absolutely loved this story! It is a beautiful edit of a quite difficult story for children. The way this is written is suitable for kids and also very moving and still also educational for childres as they learn what happened. I am very curious to read the adult version of this now!
I would highly recommend this!
Thank you Netgalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I was looking forward to reading this book because recently my 5th grade students read about the Paper Sons ans Daughters of San Francisco. Many of my students also have immigration stories of their own. I read this book in hopes of sharing it with them, but the maturity of the content is definitely for 8th-10th grade.
As a teacher, I'm not sure I would use this whole book in my class because it did drag for half the book. I could see myself using excerpts to help students understand the experience. I believe parts of this book could be really useful in some classes, but I wouldn't say it's a book I enjoyed reading for fun.
The Paper Daughters of Chinatown ~adapted for young readers based on the best selling novel~ book review
🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟
Rate: 10 /10
Authors: Heather B. Moore & Allison Hong Merrill @authorhbmoore @allison.hong.merrill
Publisher : Shadow Mountain Publishing @shadowmountainpub
Genre : Children's Fiction, Historical Fiction, YA, Middle Grade
Pub date : 11th April 2023
Paper Daughters of Chinatown, written by Heather B. Moore & Allison Hong Merrill and published by Shadow Mountain Publishing, is a gorgeous book that tells the story of two women : Tie Fu Wu and Donaldina Cameron.
The story begins with Tai Choi's -who becomes Tien Fu Wu later- issue with being sent to another town by being said as going to grandmother. She realises that she has been sold as a slave after some time of being apart from her family. She goes to US with one of her new families where she is sold for multiple times and finally taken by local mission house. And she tastes freedom and joy after a long time. In the house, she meets with Donaldina Cameron, "Miss Cameron" or "mum" for the girls in the house.
I love this book! Before reading the parts which authors and the publisher told about the historical characters, I thought it was inspired by them - you know what I mean, they say the book is based on a true story but don't really show what they say, just give a few *real* details from history. But this book is NOT one of them! (You can even see this with a quick Wikipedia searches!) The authors did a great job on taking historical events to fiction! Love love and love this!
I highly recommend you to read The Paper Daughters of Chinatown! It is a great novel to learn about Tie Fu Wu and Donaldina Cameron, two historical characters!
(Thanks to @shadowmountainpub and @netgalley for the ARC!)
The Paper Daughters of Chinatown was a well written and powerful story. I never read the adult version, but enjoyed this version adapted for younger audiences.
While the content is heavy, it was tempered well for younger audiences. The saying that history repeats itself is all too true and stories that remind us of this are important to keep these things from continuing. It is a story of overcoming trauma and is a good message for today.
Thank you NetGalley for the arc.
Firstly, I’d like to thank the author, the publisher and NetGalley for this advanced reader’s copy of the book.
Now that that’s done, let’s proceed to the praise and adoration I have for this book.
The book talks about an issue prevalent in both past and present society, one which needs to be talked about more. The author picks apart the problematic of human slavery and trafficking of Chinese girls overseas in an understandable way for both older and younger readers. While based on reality, the book possesses a sense of storytelling which can be hard to find. The story lines contained in the book are told in a realistic, interesting but mostly captivating way which indulges in the reader’s curiosity towards the truth and hard facts regarding this subject.
The characters’ personalities, opinions, quirks and backgrounds are presented in a very relatable way despite them being rooted in heartbreak and sadness. They are multifaceted and are proof of the fact that a coin is always two-sided and a book should not be judged by its cover. We can observe significant character development in more than one of the individuals, evoking a sense of hopefulness.
The plot progresses at a medium or slightly rapid pace which is quite convenient as some readers might be prone to leave off reading for a bit when it comes to tragic subjects such as this one. The pacing helps in keeping the reader’s attention and the pages are constantly getting flipped further and further (at least in my case).
Overall, the author managed to write a story based in heartbreaking events and issues needed to be discussed more and made it accessible and adequate to young readers. They show a mastery of adaptation to a younger audience, especially with the themes present. Therefore, I would like to commend the author for a job marvelously done.
This is a beautiful story of an ugly history. It was hard to read about and gave me all the emotions, I cried many times.
The paper daughters of Chinatown was an inspirational story with two historical figureheads - a woman, Dolly, who set aside her life to save the trafficked Chinese girls as they come across into America and run the mission house they stay in with a stoic kindness, and a stubborn and strong willed fierce, little Chinese girl, Tien Fu Wu.
And although I haven’t read the source material it’s filled with emotion and information that isn’t too heavy for school kids to use to learn about that time period, that terrible part of history.
Fantastically adapted middle grade suited version of Moore’s original 2020 novel. This is perfect for a classroom curriculum with guided questions and a wonderful list of additional reading/sources at the end of the novel.
Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC. I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Adapted from an adult novel that deals with difficult topics like: trafficking, forced prostitution, abuse, racism.
This was beautifully done for YA readers on an important time in history and a topic many have not heard of.
Based on the true story of two friends who unite to help rescue immigrant women in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the late 1890’s.
The historical fiction novel The Paper Daughters of Chinatown (which has been adapted for young readers) by Heather B. Moore and Allison Hong Merrill (Shadow Mountain, April 2023) is based on the lives of two women, Donaldina Cameron and the young Tien Fu Wu. Dolly was a young charismatic woman hoping to help the unfortunate in turn-of-the century San Francisco, and Tien Fu Wu was a young Chinese girl who had been sold into slavery and sent to America. With Dolly’s determination to save the Chinese “paper daughters” in slavery, she and Tien Fu became friends who worked together to rescue and educate the girls in Chinatown.
I had heard of “paper daughters” before, and I learned more from this book. Due to the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882), it was not easy for Chinese people to immigrate to the USA, unless they had family already located here. To get around this, people would become “paper daughters” to another person: that is, a child only on paper. Unfortunately, as The Paper Daughters of Chinatown so sadly illustrates, so many young women thus arriving in America were put to work as mui tsai, or household servants. As the discerning adult can imagine, this likewise includes many young women sold into prostitution.
The book alternates between the point of view of Tien Fu Wu (who had been sold to pay her father’s gambling debts at age six) and that of Dolly Cameron, who came to the Christian charity home in Chinatown in 1894, innocently hoping to help the young girls. Although the book does illustrate Tien Fu’s childhood, the majority of the book focuses on the developing bond between the determined Miss Cameron and the bitter and hesitant ten-year-old Tien Fu.
After I read this book, I was touched to read that these two women truly worked together throughout their lives as true friends, and Tien Fu was even buried next to Miss Cameron. In the novel, I liked seeing Tien Fu’s transformation as she learned to trust, find her own worth, and love those around her who likewise needed help healing. Also, the story subtly emphasizes the role of Christianity in the charity work as well as a part of the children’s eventual transformation into capable members of society.
If I’d change anything, I’d simply like a little bit more, especially as an “additional information” note to the book. In the afterword, we do learn that we did not know Tien Fu’s original name, since she was so young when she left China. I also wanted to know which of the difficult “adventures” that Miss Cameron faced were true, and if Tien Fu’s first friend as mui tsai in China likewise was based on a real person. The coincidence of these two meeting up in San Francisco 10 years after their first meeting felt a bit too convenient. That said, it was revealing to see that even this supposedly “privileged” slave girl, who was given an education and special care as a child, was only educated and brought up to likewise become an abused teen (prostitute) in America.
The middle grade novel I read rarely uses the word prostitution, mentions opium abuse only in passing, and tones down the details of the physical abuse the children and young women had received, thus making this book a suitable book for older middle grade and teen readers. I imagine that the original adult version of this book is heartbreaking in its further detail. The theme is dark and difficult. But human trafficking is still an issue. While it is a disturbing issue, this historical account of the issue in the 1890s Chinatown in San Francisco is an important look into just one of the many underbellies of American history and even today.
I received a review copy of this book for consideration.
This book was AMAZING. I have so many good things to mention about this book!
The book tells the story of Tien Fu Wu, a little girl who was sold into slavery by her father and brought from China to San Francisco. When she arrives in San Francisco, life as a servant is hard, and she gets punished a lot. Luckily she is rescued by the women of the mission home, where she lives with a lot of other girls rescued from similar fates. Slowly, Tien Fu Wu begins to trust the other girls and women leading the mission home. The story also tells you about other rescues performed by the women of the mission home and the daily life of the girls in the mission home.
I found it really impressive that such a heavy story as the one told in “The Paper Daughters of Chinatown” could be adapted into a children's book. The book gripped me from the first page, and I immediately fell in love with the book's characters. Also, the character development from not only Tien Fu but also Ms. Cameron over the span of the novel was great. You really feel like they both grew a lot since their first page. Additionally, the details with which the story was told were really descriptive, and I could see myself walking along the streets of San Francisco, which I visited recently. Another aspect of the book I really liked was that the story was based on real historical events, which unfortunately are still relevant to this day.
There were only a few moments in the story where I was a bit confused or which I disliked, like the incident where one of the girls gets arrested (is this typical for the USA at this point in time or is it just chaotic?), or the fact that the newly appointed director was racist (why would anyone like that be appointed for such a job?). In both situations, it felt like the system failed so hard that I was annoyed (which was probably what the author was aiming for).
Overall, I would definitely recommend anyone to read this very accessible work of historical fiction based on a true story set in San Francisco. But be warned, you will start to care for the Chinese girls from page 1 and that feeling won’t go away! :)
And lastly, I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
After reading The Paper Daughters of Chinatown, I appreciated being able to understand Tien Fu Wu better in this young readers adaptation. It is heart wrenching to read what these paper daughters were going through and subjected to. Donaldina (Dolly) Cameron is a new hero of mine. She selflessly put herself in danger countless times to save these Chinese girls and women. This version is definitely easy to read and flows well, making it perfect for a younger audience. I also think the cover looks amazing. I appreciate reading books where it is obvious that a lot of time and research went into it. It is good to be informed, even if some things are hard to hear about sometimes. What is great about this book is that you are also able to see growth, goodness, and happiness shine through. There are so many wonderful examples of resilience and strength in this historical book. I highly recommend it.
The strength and endurance of the young girls in this story is absolutely inspiring. Based on a true story of human trafficking in San Franscisco in the late 1800s, this story highlights issues that are still prevalent today- yes this still happens today.
A much needed (an appreciated) introduction for young readers into the real life battle to end human slavery, I definitely recommend this. It should be in middle grade and high school classes around the country. I also plan on reading the adult book as well now that I've read this one.
Thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing and NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
In chinese, Tien Fu means Heavenly Blessing, like a godsend. Ironically, this new given name that the highbinder had brutally forced Tai Choi to take almost fell like a gracious gift, a congenial compliment.
What a read is this for Women's History month.
The paper daughters of Chinatown is the true story of several incredible women, two of which are the protagonists of this book: Tien Fu Wo/Tai Choi and Dolly Cameron.
Every page you will read of this book will make you think that it is impossible that his is a true story, that the events Heather B. Moore and Allison Hong Merrill are describing must be fictional. Yet they happened. And they are horrifying.
The two authors had such delicacy in dealing with the dark topics in this book, such as kidnapping, violence, human trafficking, slavery, and so mutch worse, that allows the book never to become too umbearable to read. Ideal for the youg adult audience they re-wrote it for.
Becouse this is a rewriting, there is an original book written for a mature audience, which I will definetly read.
The story of Tien Fu and Dolly is dramatic, and at 195 pages (for the ebook version) it will keep you glued to the text until the end. I myself have baiscally read the entirety of this book in one day, for it was impossible to leat go, to not now what happens next to this inspiring woman.
It is, in my opinion, one of those books that every high school students must read. It is a story that has to be known, becouse if you, for a moment, forget the 1900 references, you could easily image Tien Fu and Dolly being two 20ieth century women fighting for what is still a very real humanitarian problem.
When I saw there was a version for youth I was all over it. I love Dolly and her love for the girls at the Mission Home. She sacrificed so much to help the woman and children at the mission. Her story and the girls who lived there story is amazing. It is a part of history I new nothing about. It is sad to think this type of slavery still exists today. I can’t even imagine how Tai Choi felt once to she discovered she was going to visit her grandmother. This book was very tastefully done and I loved being able to share this story with my girls. It was a great opportunity to teach them about a topic this important to be aware of! I am the type of parent who is very open with my children about all kinds of things. But it is because I would rather them learn about these topics from me then someone else. That is my job as their parent!! I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!
I did receive a ARC from the author and publisher via NetGalley! Thank you both for the chance to review it!
I am an adult and feel that this would be ok for mid-teens, probably not so much for younger teens/pre-teens.
I admit that I was given the chance to get a review copy of the original book, The Paper Daughters of China Town and was worried that it would be too upsetting to read. (I still haven't read that one, and have no idea if it is upsetting, or not.) So, when this story came along, I was eager to read it!
The story is excellent and is tactfully presented. I found it compelling and inspirational! There are not upsetting details, but enough to create tension. The authors found a good balance.
Obviously well-researched and the fictional characters are very believable, as well.
An excellent book about human trafficking back at the turn of the century. But heart-warming and inspirational!
I received a review copy through Net Galley, but the opinions expressed are my honest review.
Paper Daughters of Chinatown tells an important, little known story of girls in China sold into slavery by their families in the late nineteenth century. Aged six, Wien Fu’s father sells her. She ends up in Chinatown in San Francisco. Dolly Cameron accepts a job at a mission home in San Francisco where she rescues and works with the girls. The book is disturbing and inspiring. The content is appropriately horrifying for the intended audience. The writing style was at times too simplistic and could have flowed better. This is an adaptation of an adult novel that I have not read.
This is another book set in a time and place in history of which I was unfamiliar. Tien Fu Wu was sold by her father to pay off gambling debts and eventually ends up in San Francisco. Based on the true stories of the Occidental Mission Home for Girls and many of it's occupants, this book takes readers into the dark world of human trafficking in the early 1900s in Chinatown, San Francisco. Despite it being the young readers edition, the authors did not gloss over or sugarcoat things. I recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction.
I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
I read the original Paper Daughters of Chinatown from Heather B Moore (one of my favorite authors) so I was excited to see what she and the wonderful Allison Hong Merrill would do with this adapted version for young readers. Of course, it was phenomenal. So well written, powerful, and heartfelt. Tien Fu Wu was incredible. What this amazing girl (who grew into an even more amazing woman) had to endure broke my heart. Her journey back to trust and love was very well done. All of the characters whether fictional or based on real people were handled with care, as their experiences were terrible. I was brought to tears many times while reading and I felt Dolly's sincere love for these girls.
I enjoyed the alternating point of view from Tien Fu and Donaldina Cameron's perspectives. It really helped dive into what they could have been feeling at the time. This hard topic was addressed in a way suitable for a younger audience. I appreciate the connection at the end of the this book with the main focus of the original, Mei Lien.
I have not read the adult version of this book, but I do think this version for young readers is done very well. It does not skip over some of the trials the girls had to go through, but it is not so graphic that it would upset a young reader. I loved seeing the progression of Tien Fu and how by consistency and love, her heart was won over. I will definitely be putting the adult version of this book on my list to read.
I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Having previously read the adult version of this book--which is incredibly well written but deals with very heavy topics--I was curious as to how this would be adapted for younger readers. I think the authors did a great job introducing a dark part of history without getting too deep, making a great introduction to the topic of human trafficking that readers can delve more deeply into if they so desire. I love how the book focuses a lot on Tien Fu Wu and her struggles and feelings as well as showing Dolly Cameron and her work and worries. This is definitely a book I'll be sharing with my children when they're older (oldest is only 9 now, so too young right now). Very well written book on a very important topic.
I read an ARC provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.
This is an adapted for young readers version of the original historical novel, The Paper Daughters of Chinatown. It still conveyed the horror these young Chinese girls went through when they were sold as children to either pay gambling debts, bring in money to survive, or as punishment. This human trafficking went on for decades with nothing to stop it until the mid 1800's when a mission was founded in San Francisco to rescue and educate the girls who had been kept as slaves.
This is the story of Tai Choi, who was sold at age 6 to pay her father's gambling debts. After a few years of being abused as a servant, she is rescued by the women at the Occidental Mission Home for Girls. Her name as a slave had been changed to Tien Fu, and she was unable to trust anyone.
Dolly Cameron came to the mission home to teach the girls to sew, but soon found herself very involved in rescuing more, and tried to befriend Tien Fu.. Over many years and many adventures, they become close friends and continued in their mission.
This book is based upon actual historical characters, Some parts were difficult to read, and I found myself tearing up in some sections. Although it is targeted at middle-grade, I'd put it at the upper end of middle grade and into YA. I highly recommend this novel.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review this novel.
Wow, I was surprised when I read this! Having previously read the original "Paper Daughters of Chinatown" and having Heather Moore host our online book club to discuss it, I was expecting this book to be the same story but in an easier-to-read form for younger readers.
Here's where the surprise came in! It was the same San Francisco orphanage for the abused Chinese girls and the same Dolly Cameron, and I enjoyed finding references to instances I remembered from the original book; however, the story revolved around a different "paper daughter, Tien Fu. I kind of hate to say it, but I actually enjoyed this version more! I found myself getting up in the middle of the night to read more. I highly recommend this to everyone, whether or not they have read the first one, but it's an excellent read for young adults!
Based on fact and a sad part of world history, the building still stands.
So grateful to NetGalley for the chance to read it early and at no cost.
I had a love hate relationship with this book I absolutely loved the the plot of this book but when reading tea in Wu’s story and hearing her inner dialogue I just thought these are not the thoughts of a 5,6,7 and 12 year old girl. Like when she was seven years old and contemplating how wrong it was to sell another person children at that age do not have a long track memory and lives in the here now but that is just one small item they were all the things but I am focusing on the negative when I should tell you how great the rest of this book was it broke my heart to hear T ends story and I thought this was just one example of what one girl went through and can’t believe that they are still girls from China being sex trafficked and brought all over the world even America. Just know if you read this book you will cry happy tears but mostly sad heartbroken tears it is historically accurate when it comes to dates times and places but I don’t think the author had a great grasp on how children really think because she made them emotionally way smarter than they actually are but that is one small thing it’s something I shouldn’t have even mentioned because this is really is a good book. I didn’t do a summary only because other people have done great jobs I would just say read this book if you love historical fiction especially those based on real people you would absolutely love the Paper daughters of Chinatown I would love to read a nonfiction book about this and I’m definitely going to search one out I received this book from NetGalley and the publisher but I am leaving this review voluntarily please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review.
*Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book for review, all opinions are my own*
Even before I started reading I already knew I was going to like this story but I'm happy to see that I liked it after reading it.
It was a much faster read than I was imagining, I just can't say that it's a read that can be done in one day because it's a story with very heavy topics so look for trigger warnings before reading because even though it's an adaptation for young readers it's still a story that touches on sensitive but extremely important topics.
It is a book that I think everyone should read.
I highly recommend it!
I was excited for the chance to read this Young Readers version of The Paper Daughters of Chinatown, and that Allison Hong Merrill worked with Heather B. Moore in writing this adaptation. Having read the original book, I was looking forward to seeing how this would be adapted for younger readers. I thought it was very well written. Showing what had happened for the girls who lived and experienced these events, and yet being very tasteful and written sensitively for the targeted audience of younger readers.
My teenagers read the book and my just shy of being a teenager child has asked to read it as well, to which I said yes to. Tien Fu Wu's story is heartbreaking, inspiring and eyeopening. This adaptation focused more on Tien Fu's story, whereas the original version focused more on Donaldina, aka Dolly, Cameron. Miss Cameron does have chapters/scenes where the story is from her perspective in this adaptation which I loved seeing. Especially since there are aspects of this story that cause Dolly and Tien Fu to not be in scenes together.
I loved learning more about Tien Fu's history. Not that I loved what she went through. It was heartbreaking that she or anyone would be treated that way. But this part of her life wasn't focused on in the original version. I loved Tien Fu's character, her resilience, her strong personality and loved how the authors portrayed her as a younger child and portrayed the scenarios that shaped her and that she didn't let her strength die, but continued to build it and grow.
The relationship between Dolly and Tien Fu is developed further in the original book as it is longer and has more pages to do so. But, their relationship was just as sweet and hard won in this book and I loved seeing how the authors were able to show that real life relationship in a historical fiction book.
My teenagers were moved by this story, just as I was, and I'm sure many others will be when they read the book. It has piqued my interest between the two books to learn more about Dolly and Tien Fu and the Donaldina Cameron House and the many people who over the years have worked and sacrificed to help, care for, teach and show love and compassion to fellow humans who were placed in unforgiving circumstances.
Content: Clean. Well written for the targeted audience. There are some mild moments of peril and very mild references to some of the horrors that these paper daughters faced but nothing detailed. The brothels and drugs were very vaguely mentioned and again, were done very tastefully/sensitively for what the subject is and who the audience is.
I received a copy from the author/publisher, Shadow Mountain, via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions in the review are my own.
The Paper Daughters of Chinatown, adapted for young readers version, by Heather B. Moore and Allison Hong Merrill is a truly touching story. It is based on the true story of young Asian girls being victims of human trafficking in the 1890s and left me feeling emotional and hopeful. Tai Choi/Tien Fu is the main figure as the story starts. Her journey is tracked until she ends up at the home for young women where Dolly resides. I appreciated the young readers view, as the handling of these truly horrific crimes is well done. The reader is aware of the atrocities these young women experienced, but without the explicit horrifying details. It creates excellent discussion points and awareness of a very sensitive, yet relative topic. I thought it was handled tastefully while still representing the truth of the events.
I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via NetGalley and all opinions expressed are solely my own, freely given.
I received an ARC from Shadow Mountain and NetGalley in exchange for my opinions.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Audience: YA, upper MG
THE PAPER DAUGHTERS OF CHINATOWN gripped me from the opening page. The authors, Heather B. Moore and Allison Hong Merrill, have both won writing awards, and this book is the perfect fusion of their many talents.
My heart positively ached for Tai Choi, who is renamed Tien Fu Wu. To only be six-years-old and sent away from your family. I'm amazed she could remember much about them. Tien Fu is not your average girl—she's full of snark as well as distrust.
Dolly, Donaldina Cameron, sacrificed so much to changing the lives of the girls rescued and housed within the mission home. The way Tien Fu's journey intertwines with Dolly's life shows how we are stronger together, how we can work for a common goal, and how we can built trust. It's absolutely fabulous. Historically, these two women remained close until Dolly passed away.
This book deals with the serious subject of human trafficking—specifically around the Chinese girls and women who were sent to America, sold into slavery in the late 1800s to the early 1900s. A classroom could coordinate reading this book with teaching about the current state of human trafficking, history, immigration laws, danger from gangs, changes within the court systems, and cultural differences.
The authors are able to put everything on the page in a slightly softened way—meaning there are not long explanations of the function of brothels or the prostitutes. However, there is violence on the page with physical and emotional abuse. Opium usage is also mentioned.
I highly recommend this book! It's such an important topic to consider how we treat others and how we can learn from the past.
Compelling, tragic, and inspiring. The Paper Daughters of Chinatown for young readers is an adaptation from the original historical fiction novel. I was curious to see how the authors would be able to take the difficult subjects of human trafficking and slavery and create an appropriate version for young readers. Heather B. Moore and Allison Hong Merrill have definitely done it. They’ve taken the real life stories of Tien Fu Wu and Donaldina “Dolly” Cameron and expertly brought them to life for younger readers.
In the late 1800’s a loophole in the law allowed young women and children to be trafficked from China to America. Six year old Tai Choi thinks she’s traveling to visit her grandmother. Instead, she’s been sold by her father to fulfill a gambling debt. Tai Choi finds herself on a boat to America where she’s given the new name Tien Fu Wu and told to lie about why she’s coming to San Francisco. She’s soon forced into servitude where she’s beaten and punished if the child she cares for cries or if she doesn’t perform her chores satisfactorily. When she’s rescued and taken to the Occidental Mission Home for Girls, she has a difficult time trusting. She’s rightly suspicious of her new circumstances and frequently acts up.
Dolly Cameron wants to do something important. She accepts a position at the Occidental Mission teaching sewing. As she learns the girls’ tragic stories, she’s filled with compassion. When she’s asked to help perform dangerous rescue missions, she readily agrees. Dolly has a complicated relationship with Tien Fu Wu and it takes a while for her to gain her trust. But, these two form a powerful friendship as both grow throughout the story and work to rescue other young women.
Tien Fu Wu is such a great character who helps the reader understand the painful experiences she endured after being separated from her family. Dolly’s character is inspiring and I sympathized with her compassion for the girls she rescues. I especially enjoyed how she tried to gently inspire Tien Fu Wu to do better when she discovers she’s stolen a crate of apples. Dolly also serves to shine a light on the evil practices of human trafficking, unfortunately still going on today.
I appreciated how this difficult yet little spoken of time in history was portrayed for young readers. While there are a few mentions of prostitution, opium dens, and gangs, it serves to help the reader understand the situation these children and young women were forced into. It’s sensitively handled and tastefully done with just enough detail to accomplish this task. The things these young girls went through were heartbreaking, yet they’re tempered with the kindness and love shown to them by Dolly and others. Dolly was so beloved that many called her “mother.” It’s a fantastic introduction to this tragic time in America’s history. I would recommend it to middle grade (5th & 6th grade) readers and up. I received an advanced complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own and left voluntarily. 4 1/2 stars out of 5.
True story of a child sold by her father
I wondered how the author would make a book about human trafficking appropriate for younger readers, but she succeeded. The seriousness of slavery and abuse is clear without being too scary or graphic. Because of Chinese anti-immigration laws, the girls were given a new name and false papers, so they become paper daughters. Ironically, the girls were also taught to be afraid of Dolly to keep them from being rescued.
This is the true story of Tien Fu Wu, a resilient woman, who was sold by her father to pay his gambling debts in 1892 when she was six years old. Her life was incredibly heartbreaking, but she was able to overcome the things she experienced and help thousands of other girls in similar situations.
Donaldina/Dolly Cameron is a true hero. She rescued about 3,000 girls from slavery while working at the Occidental Board Presbyterian Mission Home in San Francisco, California. Dolly frequently faced many dangers as she stood up to groups of violent men who wanted to stop her. She had faith that God was with her and would help her accomplish the work she was led to do.
Between thirty-five and fifty girls lived at the mission home at any time. They were taught to read and write their native Chinese as well as English. They were also taught to sew and cook, and college was even provided for some of them who chose to go.
I read both the regular version and this one for younger readers and I prefer this version. This is a remarkable story that needs to be told but it’s nice to read it without all the ugly details. Thanks to Shadow Mountain Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC to use for my review.
Happy Publication Day!
“She wouldn’t want to go back to being owned by any human being. She was anot a thing. She was not propriety. No one was.”
ARC BOOK REVIEW: The Paper Daughters of Chinatown (YA Version)
PUB DATE: April 11, 2023
I want to first start by saying thank you to Heather B. Moore and Allison Hong Merrill, Shadow Mountain Publishing, and Netgalley for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
What a story of courage, strength, and survival in the time of slavery and prostitution among young girls in Chinatown, San Francisco. The story starts with Tien Wu who thought she was getting a better life, but ended up being sold to many slave owners. Beaten and burned, all Tien Wu wanted was her mother, who gave her the strength to keep going. But when she is saved by the mission home she goes on to learn about herself. But after starting life so roughly and in survival mode all the time, will Tien Wu be able to adapt to this new life?
As the story goes on we meet so many different people who had an impact on how the mission home became a sanctuary. One of whom is Donaldina Cameron who made it her mission to save the “paper daughters” out of slavery. Little did she know that the “troublemaker” would eventually be her partner in crime.
I encourage all to pick this book up at some point in their life because Heather Moore and Allison Merrill did an excellent job at telling the true story of the Paper Daughters of Chinatown in Historical Fiction. This book is dark and sometimes difficult to read. Abuse of anyone, especially children, is heartbreaking. I would encourage you to look up the trigger warnings before reading this book.
I have never read the adult version of this book but rest assured, I will be making it a priority. But I did find the adaptation for young readers was well done. This book was easy to follow and held my attention the whole time and have no doubt it will for you too. Now go out and get this book, you will learn so much about the dark side of Asian culture in the late 1800s.
This was an incredible story of two people from completely different walks of life who helped immigrant girls and women escape slavery in early 1900’s San Francisco. Tien Fu is sold into slavery at 6 years old, but eventually makes it to the Occidental Mission Home for Girls. Dolly Cameron helped run the home and by the end of her career, rescued over 3,000 people. This book is adapted for older teenagers from the best-selling novel and it was a little choppy, but I ended up invested in their story.
Historical fiction has always been my favourite genre, and I think I like children’s historical fiction better than that written for adults most of the time. Most of the time, books written for children tend to be cleaner, and without romance. When I saw The Paper Daughters of Chinatown, I was a little bit leery of it being too explicit. I decided to give it a chance, however, and I’m glad I did.
Tai Choi was only seven when her father in China sold her to pay his gambling debts. She was torn away from her loving mother and thrust into a new life of uncertainty. After being sold several times, someone from the Occidental Mission Home for Girls in San Francisco, California, found her and rescued her from her abusive situation. Soon after this, Donaldina Cameron arrived at the mission home.
It took many years of patient kindness on Dolly’s (Donaldina’s) part until Tien Fu, as Tai Choi became known, could trust her. During that time, Dolly went on many hair raising rescues to save other girls who were being mistreated and abused.
I had no idea, before reading The Paper Daughters of Chinatown, that so many Chinese girls were smuggled into California with fake papers. Of course, most of them ended up in brothels. I appreciated the way this author described a brothel in this children’s book – “a place where men paid money to visit girls who were trapped in a bad life.“ Some of the physical abuse is described in slightly more detail than that. On the whole this is a book I would not hesitate to let my 12-year-olds read. It would be good for parents to read ahead, in order to be prepared for questions that might come up. It is a beautiful story of people showing God’s love to those who desperately need it. I also really liked that this story is based on real people and real events. There are extensive author’s notes to explain the historical part.
Note: There is also an adult’s version of this book. I have not read that.
I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
The Paper Daughters of Chinatown (Adapted for Young Readers) is important historical fiction. I have not read the adult version and I think I'm glad of that, as this version is horrific enough. In the Young Reader adaptation we follow the life of six-year-old Tai Choi as she is repeatedly sold and trafficked. Not sure what age this material is aimed at, but I would be cautious. I believe in children knowing real facts, but I also know being immersed in good writing can feel like the real thing and this book is well written so caution is advised. In this glimpse of American History we do end up with women who make a difference and free many of these girls. A true legacy that lives on today.
I have read this version as well as the original version of this story and it is one that needs to be read from both perspectives. Heather B. Moore and Allison Hong Merrill have captured the plight and perspective of these ladies perfectly. The fear and betrayal that occurred with these "paper.daughters" is horrific and beautifully written. I felt for each girl. To view this story from the perspective of a girl sold to cover her father's debts, betrayed and told she was visiting her grandmother, is emotional and harrowing,
This story holds all the emotion that comes from a story such as this, Thankfully these girls had rescuers to help them live a better life in a foreign world.. The story is not out of date or out of time as trafficking is still alive and well today. It is a snake that good people are fighting to destroy. If this story brings that snake into the light just a little more, it has done a world of good. I will never stop sharing this book or recommending it to others. Sometimes the stories that are the hardest to read emotionally are the ones that we need the most. This story is needed. It is needed in this version. It helps those of us who did not know to be just a little less ignorant and a little more empathetic, and maybe a little more determined to prevent future girls from suffering the same.
I received an early copy through NetGalley and this is my honest review.
This is a book that will stay with you long after you turn the last page. I read both versions of this book and the author did an excellent job of making this book age appropriate. This book should be in every school library.
I received a complimentary copy from Shadow Mountain Publishing via NetGalley and was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are my own.
I read this adaptation for the novel The Paper Daughters of Chinatown. I was familiar with the story because I had read the version for adult.s The story flows well but has a lot of information and facts that were well researcher about this time. I love that my kids can read this book and learn about this time in history. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a historical novel.
I read the original book by Heather Moore several years ago, so I was excited to read this adaptation for a younger audience. This story is from a different point of view than the original, but I felt it was more suitable and relatable for teens and preteens to read. As per usual with Moore's writing, the history and research really shows through her story, and I was left with a sense of awe for the brave women who helped the "paper daughters" during this time in history.
My only complaint is that I wish the book had explained a bit more about human trafficking and given definitions to brothels and other words that would be unfamiliar to teens.
Content Consideration: Brothels are described, but I felt that the descriptions were tasteful and appropriate for a middle schooler to read.
Thank you to Netgalley for the e-advance copy. All opinions are my own.
My Rating Calculation:
Plot and character development: 8
This was a moving addition the The Paper Daughters of Chinatown. It can be difficult to read because of what Tien Fu and others like her suffered and then overcame it and helped save others.
I read the original version of The Paper Daughters of Chinatown. The authors have created this wonderful young adult adaptation of the story. This version focuses more on the young Chinese girls that were kidnapped, stolen and forced into slavery and prostitution. Even though these subjects are difficult to read, the authors have done a wonderful job of explaining the circumstances in a proper and concise way. The historical aspects are so important in the story, and research is a strong point for these authors. The community that rallied around these young girls to help them was so inspirational. It’s just hard to believe people can be so cruel and heartless in historical settings and present-day settings. Definitely an eye-opening story. I would not suggest this for a young teen but an older and more mature young adult would probably enjoy it. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
First let me say that this was a really easy book to read. I’d guess it took me something like two and a half hours to read the whole thing.
I really liked that so much of the story is told from Tien Fu Wu’s perspective, even though her story is heartbreaking. I liked getting to follow her through her recovery to the point where she decided to help rescue other girls and where she was able to use her own experience to understand how to comfort other girls.
All I can say about Dolly Cameron is that she must have been truly a force to be reckoned with. I loved the way her friendship with Tien Fu Wu developed and the growth they both experienced along the way.
I haven’t read the adult version of this book, so I don’t know what content was removed. One of the things I wish this book had given a little more background information on was why the president and his wife visited the mission home. I wanted to understand how that happened. How did they know about the mission, and was there something that prompted them to visit? It might be that that's included in the adult version and didn't make it into the young readers' edition.
Other than that, I thought the book did a great job describing the lives of girls like Tien Fu Wu and the obstacles that Dolly Cameron and the women at the mission faced in order to help them.
I think readers who enjoy books about history will definitely want to check this one out. The writing style seems more like narrative nonfiction, but it’s classified as a novel. Something about it reminded me of a book called LI JUN AND THE IRON ROAD by Anne Tait.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions my own.
An amazing story of courage and bravery in the face of extreme diversity. Beautifully adapted for the intended audience and addressing a lesser known historical event.
Content Warning: human trafficking, abuse, prostitution, slavery, drug
This is a book for more mature students, high school vs young middle school, since it touches on human trafficking and abuse. Tai Choi, at age six thinks she is on her way to visit her grandma, but is sold to pay off her father's debt. Dolly, a white 27 year old woman, starts teaching the girls sewing and through getting to know the girls starts to help rescue them. Based on a true story, this is the YA companion to the adult version of the book.
Thank you NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing, Shadow Mountain for accepting my request to read and review The Paper Daughters of Chinatown.
Genre: Children's Fiction | Teens & YA
Heartbreaking. The story was rewritten from an adult book to teen/young adult. Personally, I don't believe I could have read the adult version.
This is the water-downed story. The pieces are there without gorey details. It is enough to know a child was slapped for no reason. The abuses are insinuated and for that I'm grateful.
Little girls are sold into slavery to pay off their father's debts. For one child, her father's love for extracurricular betting was higher than any feeling towards her. If my understanding is correct, they are Paper Daughters. No, that is not bad enough, mother does more than nothing -- she keeps having human beings. The girls are never returned.
The story follows one tiny child and the paths she is thrown onto.
Another book that makes me ashamed to be human. This will stay with me the rest of my life. I am too emotionally impacted to write more.
things that made me give this book a 3.75 stars was the lack of tension I felt when Dolly, the interpreter, and some police officers would go on rescue missions, usually in the middle of the night. The characters kept mentioning the danger they were in, but it didn’t feel that way at all. It always seemed like they were able to stroll into the places and were met with little resistance and not a huge amount of danger. I felt more tension when members of the tong and previous owners would show up to the mission house and everyone who did not have the proper paperwork yet would have to go down into the basement. There was also a useless romantic plot in the middle that may have been real but it wasn’t necessary.
This was a very lovely story that I thoroughly enjoyed. I bit young, obviously, but I think age and reading levels are truly a more subjective thing. The writing was lovely, creating an easy reading experience, but I would say the pacing of the plot was a bit slow for my personal taste.
Overall, I'd say more of a 3.5 rating.
4.5 stars, rounded up
I was intrigued to see how Moore would adapt her original version of this story into one for younger readers. I was surprised to see that she choose a co-author to do it with. I'm not sure how each author contributed to the storyline, but, for the most part, everything was pretty seamless in the flow of the book. There were a few repetitions and some tiny gaps of unexplained things, things maybe teenagers wouldn't necessarily pick up on as missing, but I felt there were some assumptions of parts of the story that weren't explained as thoroughly as in the original. Overall, however, I really enjoyed this version for young readers and value the importance of telling this part of history and how it relates to the human trafficking that is still going on today, just without the racial aspect of it. I highly recommend this book. In the book, the authors list a Q&A for more information about the time period and the real-life characters. There is also mention of a teacher's guide available on the publisher's website for ways to incorporate this book into lesson plans. Bravo! Such a great idea! This version of the book chooses to focus less on Donaldina Cameron, the fierce protector of these young paper daughters, and more on Tien Fu Wu, one of the spirited girls who was sold into slavery by her father to pay off his gambling debts. What these Chinese women and girls went through is incomprehensible and heartbreaking, but Moore and her co-author Merrill do a great service to them by their strong portrayal of their courage and determination to overcome their trials, as well as the portrayal of the women and men who helped them.
Content: Clean; appropriate for teens, even younger ones. The heavy subject matter is dealt with in a very light manner bgut still portraying the importance of this lesson and the truth of what happened to these girls and the multiple harsh situations they were forced into.
Another part of the story, from a different point of view. This story follows the children's side of the slave trade in the late 1800's, in San Francisco. As a child Tien Fu is traded and sold from one master to another, like an object. The bartering is done right in front of her, no care for her emotions. Until the day she is rescued. She must learn to trust people and work to help save other girls just like her.
Adapted from the best-selling adult novel, this YA version shifts the focus from the white, real-life crusader, Donaldina (Dolly) Cameron, and the young Chinese women forced into prostitution, to Tien Fu Wu, one of the Chinese “paper-daughters” Cameron aided. At the end of the nineteenth century, six-year-old Tien Fu was sold by her debt-ridden father. With other Chinese girls she was shipped to San Francisco, trained to pass immigration as a “paper-daughter,” then sold and re-sold into domestic slavery. Well researched and horrifying, the fictionalized story of real-life enslaved girls is intrinsically engaging. Moore and Merrill have made the subject appropriate for upper middle grade and high school readers. The brutality, sexual violence, and drug use inherent to human-trafficking appears briefly, is referred to, or occurs outside the frame of the narrative. Despite some clunky writing, this eye-opening story of female resilience and bravery is full of human interest and is especially relevant to Bay Area residents. Historic and fictional characters are clearly delineated. A timeline precedes the narrative. Back matter includes Questions & Answers, Selected Bibliography, and Recommended Reading. Thanks to Shadow Mountain and NetGalley for an ARC in return for an unbiased review.
A tale of a girl, who like Joseph of Egypt, finds her purpose in a foreign land. I quite enjoyed this inspiring tale of Tien Fu Wu overcoming her own adversity to help others.
I've read the original The Paper Daughters of Chinatown and love the Young Readers Edition. Not only is the material adapted for a younger audience, but the point of view is primarily that of Tien Fu Wu, as a young girl. She was one of my favorite characters in the original and she shines brightly in this edition.
This dealt with the heavy topic(s) of human trafficking, slavery, and prostitution. None of the details were graphic and I would rate this PG for the topics mentioned. I would recommend this to readers of most ages who are interested in inspiring historical fiction rooted in fact.
Content warning- human trafficking, child abuse, physical abuse, mentions of sexual assault.
A rarely discussed topic of American history, The Paper Daughters of Chinatown shares the history of young women and girls trafficked into the United States (especially California) to pay off debts of their parents and to be used in different forms of slavery. This book tackles topics of colonization, misogyny, racism, and xenophobia, yet also shows strong female characters that continue to fight to protect themselves and their futures.
This whole book was very solid and I was able to learn a lot more about Chinese/Chinese-American History.
Overall I really enjoyed it.
Teen friendly version of the adult classic, it is the same story just written in a way that will be friendly to teens.
The Paper Daughters of Chinatown: Adapted for Young Readers by Heather B. Moore and Allison Hong Merrill is a gripping historical novel based on a true story. Set in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the late 1890s, the book follows the journey of two friends who come together to rescue immigrant women and girls from a life of exploitation.
The story begins with Tai Choi, a young girl from the Zhejiang province of China who is deceived by her father and sold to pay off his debts. Sent to San Francisco, Tai Choi is forced to assume a new identity as Tien Fu Wu and becomes a servant. Her life is filled with hardship, as she is expected to stay hidden, remain silent, and perform endless chores under the threat of punishment or being sold again. However, everything changes when she is rescued by the women at the Occidental Mission Home for Girls.
Enter Dolly Cameron, a sewing teacher who arrives in San Francisco and becomes acquainted with Tien Fu. Initially resistant to trust and defiant in nature, Tien Fu gradually opens up to Dolly. Together, they discover that all the girls at the mission home have been freed from servitude and abuse, motivating them to help others in similar situations.
The authors beautifully depict the challenges faced by Tien Fu and Dolly as they work towards the freedom of enslaved immigrant women and girls. Their friendship blossoms, and they become mentors and advocates for those in the mission home. The novel explores themes of resilience, trust, and the power of friendship.
Overall, The Paper Daughters of Chinatown is a compelling and inspiring read. It sheds light on an important historical period and the courageous efforts of individuals to fight against injustice. Moore and Merrill’s adaptation for young readers makes this story accessible and engaging. I highly recommend this book to both young readers and adults alike.
**ARC Via NetGalley**
I thought this book was really good. I loved the original story that was written for adults, so I was interested in seeing how the author would adapt it for a younger audience. I thought the authors did a great job of sharing about a hard topic in a way that younger readers could understand. I liked how the authors wrote the story so that you saw from two people’s perspective. I thought they did a good job of keeping the feeling of the original story while making it appropriated for younger readers. I thought this was very well done.
I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, and or authors. A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.