Today is the last day of Fashion Revolution Week 2020 and I’m recommending reading the children’s novel Spilled Water by the incredibly talented Sally Grindley.
At just 11 years old Lu Si-Yan is sold into domestic service. Treated like the slave her owners intend her to be, her imprisioned future is bleak. But Lu Si-Yan is resilient and resourceful. Memories of her childhood keep her going. Determination to see her mother again leads her to work at a factory, under backbreaking conditions and illegal practices. Even here her warm heart and strong morals earn her friends. But will she ever have a choice to go home?
A story of hope, courage, bravery and the strength of the human spirit in the face of a senseless world. Grindley expertly tackles the topic of modern day slavery; child labour, sweatshops and sexual harassment – raising awareness of these barbaric practices for a younger audience. At the same time she asks some deep and meaningful questions about equality, love, and what it means to be truly rich.
I first read Spilled Water when I was 11 – the same age as Lu Si-Yan. Her treatment and the injustice of the inhuman conditions of the factory contributed enormously to my understanding of slavery and sweatshops at the time. While selecting my seven recommended reads for Fashion Revolution Week this year, the memory of the Rana Plaza factory collapse raw again, I was reminded of Lu Si-Yan’s story. Reading the book nine years later was an emotional experience. As an adult I was able to see the story from another perspective – filling-in the gaps between the words and finishing the sentences of situations and experiences hinted at. I found a new appreciation for the beauty of the storytelling and a deeper connection with the events of the story. Spilled Water is a must read for both children and adults and, though not a true story, one that gives a voice to so many.
Although the factory Lu Si-Yan works in makes toys not garments, I feel it is an appropriate book to include in my recommended reads and end this years Fashion Revolution Week. An important reminder of the effects of your purse and your choices.
Clothes are an investment.
An investment in a better world.
Meg Readz xx