The typical Cinderella story, set in ancient China. Women are not of great value and their beauty is often judged by their tiny, bound feet. Xing Xing hasn’t had her feet bound and is thus thought lacking by her stepmother, who also harbors resentment that Xing Xing’s deceased father favored her.
The tale is rich in historical information and details of culture and customs. It also deal with the very personal issues that Xing Xing faces, growing up under a resentful stepmother, dealing with the loss of her entire biological family, being made to constantly feel inferior, all during a time of discovery and growth. Her skills in poetry and calligraphy help her hold on to who she is and emerge, especially when the Prince comes calling. Seeing Xing Xing stand up for who she is and how she makes her decisions was inspiring.
In studying traditional stories or writing and how certain themes are used repeatedly in different ways, this could be used to illustrate the Cinderella theme. Using the book Beauty by Susan Wilson to illustrate the Beauty and Beast theme would be a nice pairing. There is also a young adult novel called Beastly by Alex Finn that would also pair nicely for a telling that would appeal to young men as well as young ladies.