Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution

Ji-Li Jiang, Author
Ji-Li Jiang, Author Collins $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-027585-3
Reviewed on: 10/27/1997
Release date: 01/01/1900
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-06-446208-2
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-13733-1
Library Binding - 978-0-06-027586-0
Prebound-Glued - 304 pages - 978-0-613-10527-9
Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-06-203534-9
Paperback - 285 pages - 978-0-06-166771-8
Prebound-Sewn - 285 pages - 978-0-7807-8975-3
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The passionate tone of this memoir, Jiang's first book for children, does not obstruct the author's clarity as she recounts the turmoil during China's Cultural Revolution. It is 1966, and Ji-li, a highly ranked student, exceptional athlete and avid follower of Mao zealously joins her classmates in denouncing the Four Olds: ""old ideas, old culture, old customs and old habits."" Tables are turned, however, when her own family's bourgeois heritage is put under attack. Even when the 12-year-old's dreams of a successful career are dashed (as quickly as her opportunities to attend a prestigious high school and to join youth organizations), and she must watch in horror as relatives, teachers, neighbors and friends are publicly humiliated and tortured, her devotion to ingrained Communist principals remains steadfast (""It was only after Mao's death that I knew I was deceived,"" she says in the epilogue). Jiang paints a detailed picture of everyday life in Shanghai (""Almost every Sunday afternoon Dad wanted to take a long nap in peace, and so he gave us thirty fen to rent picture books"") while slowly adding the dark strokes of political poison that begin to invade it. Her undidactic approach invites a thoughtful analysis of Ji-li's situation and beliefs. She astutely leaves morals and warnings about corruption and political control to be read between the lines. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)
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