Hiatt, Fred. Nine Days.
9 April 2013, Delacorte Books for Young Readers
ARC from Baker and Taylor
Ti-Anna is the daughter of Chinese revolutionaries who are working for democracy in China. Ethan is fascinated with Chinese culture. When Ti-Anna's father attempts to go to Hong Kong, even though he knows if he sets foot back in China he will be arrested, he goes missing. Ti-Anna is determined to go to China and find him, and she finds a willing ally in Ethan. The two take off with the bare essentials and without much of a plan, but manage to track down friends of her father's who are willing to help them. They discover that the government has lured and trapped the father... was Ti-Anna herself is lured and trapped! Ethan manages to stay with her and finds her in a truck full of underaged girls who are going to be sold into prostitution. He accidentally blows up a boat and bridge, and not only frees the girls but helps the government crack the ring taking the girls, but this does not help find Ti-Anna's father. Ethan is ready to give up, but Ti-Anna makes one last dangerous bid to find him. Can Ethan manage to return to the states with her, or will she become as lost as her father? Based on some true events.
Strengths: The chain of events that allow the two teenagers to take off to China alone is realistically done, and there is a lot of good action and adventure. There is a lot of information about how the world works differently in countries like China without being didactic. The human trafficking story is explained enough without being graphic. Enjoyed this very much.
Weaknesses: Strains credulity a bit, especially with the number of English speaking people Ethan finds even in rural Vietnam, but still a fun romp with serious undertones. I would like to see more middle grade books by this author.
This would be great paired with William Bell's Forbidden City. It doesn't seem right that this is now historical fiction, but it did come out in 1990! From Goodreads:
Jackson comes home from school to find that his father, a CBC news
cameraman, wants to take him to China's capital, Beijing. Once there,
Alex finds himself on his own in Tian An Men Square as desperate
students fight the Chinese army for their freedom. Separated from his
father and carrying illegal videotapes, Alex must trust the students to
help him escape.
Closely based on eyewitness accounts of the massacre in Beijing, Forbidden City is a powerful and frightening story."