Lace Dowry, The
"Nicely paced for classroom read-alouds, the novel raises great questions for discussions: Is it okay to lie and steal to help someone else? Why do traditions continue?"
"Cheng’s story unfolds slowly as each character’s motive exposes itself. Although there are no earth-shattering conflicts in Juli’s life, she experiences the frustrations of growing up with the same intensity that her friend, Roaz, feels about her choices and the lack of options in her life. Juli romanticizes life on the farm in Halas, While her mother struggles to accept her daughter’s decisions. Cheng’s descriptions of Juli’s trips to Halas subtly expose the changes in the girl. It is a well-crafted, gentle story that develops much like a lace tablecloth is created."
—Voice of Youth Advocate
"Based on her own family story, Cheng captures Juli’s voice, and that of her difficult mother, directly and simply. The final resolution supplies both enlightenment and a small measure of reassurance in a deftly sketched historical setting."
"Cheng convincingly depicts Juli's struggle to both connect with and to detach from her mother, and nimbly weaves bits of Hungarian lore into her story."
"With effective subtlety, Cheng chronicles the escalating tension between headstrong mother and daughter as well as between Juli and Roza, whose different backgrounds push them apart as well as bring them together. Cheng presents each of the characters sympathetically and gives this tale, unusual in time and setting, poignant relevance and credibility."
"Stories of overbearing mothers and determined teens are resolutely present, regardless of time and place, and young readers willing to forgive the convenient conclusion will enjoy the universality of the theme. An author’s note, linking the story to the author’s own Hungarian heritage, is included."
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Cheng's exploration of economic struggle and class issues work well to plant awareness and sympathy in the reader. ... [A] strong and welcome addition to the coming-of-age story genre and will appeal to fifth-grade readers and up."
—Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy
"[T]his sensitive and poignant novel shows that mother-daughter conflicts share central elements in every time and place. … Cheng deftly brings to life the fascinating and vanishing world of lacemaking, drawing on stories from her own family’s history and a visit to the lacemaking museum in Halas, Hungary. But at the heart of the story is the deep and enduring, though inevitably strained, love between Juli and her parents."
"Written in a deceptively sparse style, Cheng’s novel is an homage to mothers and daughters who seek to understand one another while bridging cultural and generational gaps."
"[A] provocative story."
—Midwest Book Review, The--Children's Bookwatch
"What a treat: a story that reads effortlessly. We have a small constellation of characters who move around one another with real-life awkwardness, very gently describing the complicated way parents and children love each other. And the plot is just as deft, as it follows the complicated way modern and traditional cultures must live together. All this from a slim novel aimed at grade-school readers. I can imagine a much wider audience enjoying it."
"The story is based in part on the life of the author's aunt. The Author's Note at the end of the story describes the art of lace making in Kiskunhalas (Halas), Hungary, a tradition begun during the nineteenth century and handed down from mothers and grandmothers. Recommended."
—Library Media Connection