Top positive review
An Excellent Memoir
Reviewed in the United States on January 11, 2017
This is NOT a book about the "big picture" of what happened in Communist China during the Cultural Revolution. Rather, it is a memoir of the lives of a young girl and her family and her friends' families. For the Chinese people, society's rules about what is good and bad were reversed, first when the Communists conquered China in 1949, and then the reversal was emphasized seventeen years later, when the Cultural Revolution began. The result was that families who, before Communism, had worked hard and intelligently and had prospered suddenly became national enemies. Even those who had chosen not to flee China, out of a strong sense of Chinese patriotism, like the author's parents and grandparents, were declared by the state to be "enemies of the people". Even worse, no way was allowed for such a family to "make up" for its past, and even the children who were born into Communism, like the author and her siblings and friends, were declared to be guilty of the "crimes" of their ancestors. For the author, the Cultural Revolution was a turning point in her life. Until then, her parents and grandmother had kept their heads down and been left alone, but now they were denounced and actively persecuted. What the author was seeing daily in her life conflicted with the propaganda she was getting at school, which, before, she had accepted without question. Now her confusion kept increasing, as she tried to make sense of her new world. Finally, she was told bluntly that she had to choose between her country and her family, and only if she publicly rejected her family could she have the life she had always expected to have. Of course this was an agonizing decision, and took much time, but she finally made her choice.
The book is well-written, and does an excellent job of showing life in this tumultuous time as seen by a highly intelligent girl who was only twelve years old when the Cultural Revolution began. I highly recommend it.