BookBrowse Reviews The Scavenger's Daughters by Kay Bratt

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The Scavenger's Daughters

Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters, Book One

by Kay Bratt

The Scavenger's Daughters by Kay Bratt X
The Scavenger's Daughters by Kay Bratt
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    Aug 2013, 272 pages

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Spanning China's history from the Cultural Revolution in the '60s to the present, The Scavenger's Daughters is a heart-warming tale of family and redemption.

Most BookBrowse readers gave high marks to this story set during China's Cultural Revolution. Here's what they had to say: During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, infant girls were often abandoned because of sickness, physical challenges, or just because they were girls. Benfu, who makes his living scavenging landfills, finds these girls and brings them home to be loved and raised. They are given flower names and are thought of as a flower garden by Benfu and his wife (Mary Jane D). The Scavenger's Daughters is inspired by a true story about the redemption of the human spirit through the life of one couple who serve as an example of what a family could be even under the poorest circumstances (Gail G).

Readers found the story absorbing and are looking forward to the next book in the series:

Kay Bratt's cleverly titled novel fills the reader with images of refuse, dirt, and stench. How could any reader be lured into choosing this book which seemingly promises pages of depressive, downtrodden characters ambling from one overwhelming hopelessness to another? But a closer examination of the word "scavenger" reveals multiple layers of meaning. It shows how salvaging something destined to be trash can transform it by adding value. I was richly rewarded by this read! (Audrey C). The author leaves enough unfinished in the lives of the characters to encourage the reader to continue the series. I look forward to reading the other books as they become available (Doris K).

Many appreciated the insight into Chinese culture:

Although The Scavenger's Daughters is set in the context of Mao's Cultural Revolution and its aftermath, the lessons this story teaches are valuable in all societies, political environments, and religions. I enjoyed learning the details about the impact Mao's policies have had in the mindset of modern-day Chinese (Kathleen S). The setting for this book is modern day China. However, the prologue and frequent references to the Cultural Revolution make a strong comparison between these two times. This could lead to an interesting discussion of the lasting effects of the Cultural Revolution on the people of China. Consequently it would be a good read for a book club or anyone interested in historical fiction (Doris K).

The book is not without its flaws, say some:

It seemed like the author was trying a bit too hard to give each character qualities that could represent a particular group of people (example, physically disabled or altruistic government official) rather than making me feel that they were real individuals. Even so, I found the book entertaining and believe that it has a message that everyone needs to hear (Kathleen S). Some of the dialogue just didn't ring true and I have read many other novels about being a girl in China. That having been said, I couldn't stop reading The Scavenger's Daughters and am intrigued by the fact that it is the first in a forthcoming series. I look forward to reading the next book, both to see if the writing improves, but more important, because I've grown attached to the characters (Kathleen W).

Overall, many found the insights into China coupled with a heart-warming story to be a winner:

The Scavenger's Daughters is an engaging look at the cultural and economic differences that resulted from the Cultural Revolution, and is also a heart-warming drama and love story all rolled into one (Darshell S). This book is a smooth read and would particularly appeal to young adults and adolescents (Lynne G). Although the subject is not "feel good," the book is well-written, the characters well-drawn and the content informative and engaging. I have already recommended it to co-workers and library patrons, and I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series (Barb W). I have told several of my friends that they need to read this book and I will probably have it as one if my picks for my book club. A read you shouldn't miss (Joy T).

This review is from the October 2, 2013 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

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Beyond the Book:
  China's One-Child Policy

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