December 17, 2009

Review and Giveaway: Thousand Pieces of Gold by Ruthanne Lum McCunn

BOOK #: 90
REASON READ: Colorful Reading Challenge
PUBLISHER: Beacon Press
GENRE: Biographical Novel, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
FORMAT/PAGES: Paperback/308
RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

Lalu Nathoy's father called his thirteen-year-old daughter his treasure, his "thousand pieces of gold," yet when famine strikes northern China in 1871, he is forced to sell her. Polly, as Lalu is later called, is sold to a brothel, sold again to a slave merchant bound for America, auctioned to a saloonkeeper, and offered as a prize in a poker game. This biographical novel is the extraordinary story of one woman's fight for independence and dignity in the American West.

You would be hard pressed to find a heroine stronger than Lalu/Polly. She endures hardships and trials that could bring most anyone down. But not Polly. She perseveres. She is a pillar of strength and the poster woman for determination.

Thousand Pieces of Gold touches on some very important issues: the treatment of the Chinese in the nineteenth-century American West; the issue of slavery in nineteenth-century China and America; the immigrant experience; free will vs. fate; the role of women in the 19th century; and mixed-race relationships.

The writing in this book flows beautifully, yet it is packed with intensity. It is packed with intensity, yet it is also at times playful and sweet. I instantly liked Lalu. I was drawn into her story, into her character. It was a very beautiful and important read, in my opinion, and I am very glad I read it.


"Don't you understand you cannot escape your fate?"

"For the Gold Mountains they had described was not the America she would know. This: the dingy basement room, the blank faces of women and girls stripped of hope, the splintered boards beneath her on the auction block. This was her America."

"I remember one time a man bring a performing monkey to my village,' Polly said. 'The man divide the audience in two and give each side one end of a rope to hold. Then the monkey walk carefully back and forth between the two sides. At each end, he stop a little bit, but he cannot stay, and so he walk again until he so tired, he fall.' She pointed down to Warrens, so clearly divided into two camps. 'Sometimes I feel like that monkey."


Would you like the chance to read this moving and intriguing story? Leave a comment with your e-mail address saying you would like to win this book. The contest will go until December 22nd. I will announce the winner and mail the book out following Christmas. Good luck!


  1. I love immigrant stories, so I'd love to be entered in your great giveaway! milou2ster(at)

  2. This sounds like a fascinating book! Are you part of the Women Unbound challenge? This book would be perfect for that, I think.

    I would love to win it! kitty fischer at gmail dot com ;)

  3. Sounds fascinating! I'd love to win this book.

    My e-mail address is dreamworldofabookaholic [AT] googlemail [DOT] com.

  4. I'd love to win this book! Sounds like a powerful story!

  5. I'd like to read that book!

  6. Sounds great, I'd love to win!

  7. Wow, this sounds like quite an amazing story and I would love a chance to win it.
    joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

  8. Rebecca. This sounds like a really great book - plus I could get started right off the bat in 2010 on the new challenge!

    Let me know when you needed my guest post for the 2009 Challenge - I'm still thinking about what I want to do but I'm sure I can come up with something.

    ravndahl (at) hotmail (dot) com

  9. Sounds like a great book! Thank you for the entry.


  10. I'd love to be entered. Thanks for the enticing review--this is now on my TBR list!

    rubymoonstone at gmail dot com

  11. I'd love to give this book a read! I find the history of Chinese immigrants in the West to be fascinating.

    srfbluemama at gmail dot com

  12. This sounds like a wonderful book!

    Thank you for the entry!



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