Saturday, March 18, 2017

LaValley, Josanne . Factory Girl.

LaValley, Josanne .  Factory Girl.  Houghton Mifflin/Harcourt Brace     2017  265p  $17.99  ISBN 978-0-544-69947-2      Hardback    ms/hs Nonfiction  E-BN

The fluid writing style in Factory Girl that portrays the rural lifestyle of Muslim families living in northern China contrasts dramatically with the accounts of the government conscription of Muslim girls to work at a clothing factory in southern China. From the 22-hour bus ride with a harsh female boss who offers no breaks and little food, to the austere conditions of the living quarters at the factory and the brutal bosses who insist on having the girls work overtime and “please” their wealthy clients who place large clothing orders, this is a book that describes child labor conditions resembling those of over a century ago, but that are still found in countries that have no child labor laws. The nine Muslim girls form their own community and try to help one another survive while working alongside local Chinese girls who are given time off to go home. The narrative is sure to tug at the heartstrings of readers who may wonder under what conditions their foreign-made clothing was made. Using a Muslim girl as an “attendant/companion” at a boss-owned nightclub is particularly jarring as female Muslims keep their bodies covered and do  not allow males to touch them. This is a study in cultural conflict as well as a look at the conditions in factories that lack proper hygiene, food, and living quarters for their employees.       

Strongly recommended for all high-school and most middle-school libraries as a study in cultural differences as well as slave-labor conditions in some foreign industries.   

Summary: Nine Muslim girls are conscripted to work as slave labor in a Chinese clothing factory. The writing contrasts their home life in rural China with the austere and brutal working conditions in the clothing factory. Grades 7-12.    

Factory life, Clothing industry                                   —Lois McNicol

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