Cover image for Red thread sisters
Red thread sisters
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, 2012.
Physical Description:
236 p. ; 22 cm.
Reading Level:
700 L Lexile
After an American family adopts eleven-year-old Wen from a Chinese orphanage, she vows to find a family for her best friend, too.


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When a girl is adopted from a Chinese orphanage, everything she knew about family, best friends, and sisterhood must change.

Wen has spent the first eleven years of her life at an orphanage in rural China, and the only person she would call family is her best friend, Shu Ling. When Wen is adopted by an American couple, she struggles to adjust to every part of her new life: having access to all the food and clothes she could want, going to school, being someone's daughter. But the hardest part of all is knowing that Shu Ling remains back at the orphanage, alone. Wen knows that her best friend deserves a family and a future, too. But finding a home for Shu Ling isn't easy, and time is running out . . .

Author Notes

Carol Antoinette Peacock is the author of a number of picture books, including Mommy Far, Mommy Near and Pilgrim Cat . An adoptive mother of two daughters from China, she drew upon her own experiences to write Red Thread Sisters . Carol lives outside Boston, Massachusetts, where, besides being a writer, she's also a practicing psychologist.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8-When Wen is adopted, she promises that after arriving in America, she'll find a family for her best friend, Shu Ling. Leaving China and everyone she knows is hard. In addition to having to learn English and adjust to a new school, she lives in fear of being sent back and wonders why she can't open up to her new family. Things get worse when her father loses his job and extras have to be cut. Is Wen an extra? With the clock counting down before Shu Ling ages out of eligibility, Wen tries to overcome her feelings of inadequacy to embrace her new life as she learns the true meaning of friendship, family, and unconditional love. Wen's journey is perfectly paced as she comes to accept her new life. She finds common ground with her new friends in surprising and moving places and learns that letting in new people doesn't mean forgetting the old ones. While the resolution to the plotline involving Shu Ling is a bit unrealistic, overall, Wen's story is heartwarming and joyous.-Jennifer Rothschild, Arlington County Public Libraries, VA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

The joy 11-year-old Zhang Wen feels over getting a family of her own through international adoption is dampened by her knowledge that her best friend, Shu Ling, will be left behind in a Chinese orphanage. After arriving in Massachusetts, Wen can't stop worrying about Shu Ling, who has been deemed "unadoptable" due to her age and misshapen leg. Wen vows to find a home for her friend, but also fears being sent back to China for not being a "good enough" daughter. This quiet, intimate novel focuses on Wen's difficult emotional journey, as she builds trust with her American family and tries to find a way to save her friend. Writing from personal experience as the mother of two adopted daughters, Peacock (who explored similar territory for younger readers in the picture book Mommy Far, Mommy Near) offers insight into the struggles of Asian children both awaiting adoption and assimilating into a new culture. Wen's selflessness and determination are poignant but not overly sentimental, and the story's harsh truths about children in need are sensitively expressed. Ages 8-12. Agent: Regina Brooks, Serendipity Literary Agency. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

A Chinese legend says that a red thread connects those destined to meet and that the thread may stretch or become tangled but will never break. Growing up in a Chinese orphanage after being abandoned by her family, Wen feels a connection like that with her best friend, Shu Ling, another orphan. Eventually, Wen is adopted by an American family, but the prospect for Shu Ling is grim: She has a deformed foot. Before Wen leaves for America she promises she will find a family for Shu Ling--imagining that her adoptive family can take her, too. Although her new family is loving and kind, Wen can't forget her promise, and neither, after her earlier abandonment, can she fully trust the Americans, leaving her in believable emotional turmoil. She tries a variety of determined strategies to find a home for Shu Ling after it becomes clear her family can't afford another adoption. Raising the suspense, Wen learns that Shu Ling will soon age out, becoming legally unavailable for adoption. Wen's palpable growth--as she begins to understand American ways and the dynamics of her family, works on Shu Ling's cause and recognizes other red-thread connections in her life--provides a moving and engaging experience for readers. A fine addition to both the coming-of-age genre and books sensitively dealing with cross-cultural adoption. (Fiction. 9-14)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

When 11-year-old Wen is adopted by a U.S. family, she promises to find an American family for her dear friend and red thread sister Shu Ling, too. As Wen adapts to her new family and community, she never forgets her pledge, but she finds it more difficult than anticipated, as Shu Ling has a clubfoot and is 13 years old; at 14, Chinese children age out of adoption. Wen's desperate attempt to find an adoptive family drives the plot, creating palpable tension, but her evolving relationships at home and school are also beautifully developed. Her generally positive experiences with adoption agency bureaucracy strain credibility, but the support of the Internet community rings true. Most children's books on this topic are picture books featuring infants or preschool adoptees. Heartfelt yet never sentimental, this middle-grade novel provides a rare look at the problems and experiences facing older adoptees.--Perkins, Linda Copyright 2010 Booklist