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Factory Girl

Review

Factory Girl

Roshen is 16 and working at pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher in her peoples’ --- the Uyghurs’ --- desert homeland in Northern China. Her dream is put on hold when she, and other Uyghur girls, are conscripted by the government to work in a faraway factory. It is there where Roshen has to deal with degrading conditions, persecution and outright hostility. Every day is a struggle, but it is in this struggle that Roshen makes connections that will last a lifetime and find out who she truly is.

"[FACTORY GIRL] delivers a powerful message about standing up for your culture and religion, and never losing hope in what you believe in."

FACTORY GIRL is Josanne La Valley’s second novel about the plight of the Muslim Uyghur people in Northern China. Uyghurs are ethnically and culturally Turkic people living in an area they have inhabited for nearly four thousand years, which they call East Turkestan. Their ancestral homeland is now controlled by the Republic of China. Their religion and way of life is becoming increasingly suppressed by the government. The Uyghur language is banned in Universities, their mosques closed and Uyghurs are often subjected compulsory and forced unpaid labor.

When I first picked up this book, I had no idea who the Uyghur people were, or anything about their oppression by the hands of the Chinese Government. The plight of the Uyghurs is not as well-known as the controversy of Tibet, but still significant enough for me to wonder why I had never heard of it before. The fact that we still see cultural and religious persecution is so staggering that I can’t believe that we’re still having this discussion. The experiences of the girls in the factory, while fiction, were based off firsthand accounts and resources collected by human rights groups. The picture that it paints is not a pretty one.

The book itself delivers a powerful message about standing up for your culture and religion, and never losing hope in what you believe in. While the conditions within the factory became progressively unbearable and the girls are stripped to the bare bones of themselves, it is there that Roshen learns the true meaning of strength, and how to protest when everyone is trying to knock you down.

Generally, the book was slow moving, but the message and the information that it delivers is important for everyone to learn. Some of the subjects that it deals with are quite mature. Sexual assault, rape and death are all alluded to, so if you’re triggered by any of those things this may not be the book for you. FACTORY GIRL is a book I would recommend for anyone interested in social action, human rights or for someone interested in learning more about different types of cultures.    

Reviewed by Zoe I., Teen Board Member on January 24, 2017

Factory Girl
by Josanne La Valley

  • Publication Date: January 10, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Friendship, Young Adult 14+
  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books
  • ISBN-10: 0544699475
  • ISBN-13: 9780544699472