“THREADS,” by Ami Polonsky, Disney-Hyperion, Nov. 1, 2016, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8 and up)
We often get so caught up in our own problems that we forget to be grateful for what we do have. “Threads,” by Amy Polonsky, helps put things into perspective.
Twelve-year-old Clara doesn’t really want to go to the mall with her friend, but she does anyway. Clara is still trying to deal with the death of her adopted sister, Lola, and the mall seems trivial at best.
Then Clara finds a note in a purse at the department store, and her life is forever changed. The note begins, “To Whom It May Concern: Please, we need help!” It goes on to explain that the writer is being held captive in a pink factory outside of Beijing. Also included is a worn picture, seemingly of the person who wrote the note.
Clara can’t get Yuming’s note out of her mind. She’s convinced she was meant to find it. Lola would have wanted her to get involved. She would want her to go to China. But how can Clara get her parents to take her?
Thousands of miles away, 13-year-old Yuming toils over her sewing machine, sewing handles onto cheap purses in a windowless room. Yuming stashed a note and her only personal item, a picture, in a moment of desperation. It’s been long enough now, that she regrets her rash decision. Finally, Yuming decides she can’t wait for someone to rescue her, she’s got to act on her own if she’s ever going to escape.
Clara and Yuming’s stories unfold in alternating chapters, highlighting the stark contrast and similarities the two girls share. While I enjoyed the juxtaposition, I did find the beginning of “Threads” to be a little slow. As I moved forward, the pace picked up — it’s hard to tell whether it was by pacing or by a greater familiarity with the author’s prose.
Author Ami Polonsky (“Gracefully Grayson”) presents death and coping with grief in a way that makes sense and is easily accessible. A few elements seemed a bit too convenient, and the conclusion is perhaps a bit too tidy, but that wouldn’t keep me from recommending “Threads.”