Forbidden City

William Bell, Author Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers $14.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-553-07131-3
Despite certain shortcomings, this fictionalized account of the tragedy of Tiananmen Square is as engrossing as it is appalling. When Alex's father, a news cameraman, is assigned to Beijing, Alex leaps at the chance to join him. At loose ends in the alien metropolis, the teenager studies Chinese and explores the city on his bike, filming with a makeshift hidden camera. Not surprisingly, these skills come in handy during both the student protests and the subsequent crackdown. In fact, Alex's avocation, along with his father's profession, seem to have been chosen solely to provide the reader with a bird's-eye view of the events of that brutal spring. Even Alex's obsession with military history seems tacked on in order to facilitate the lumbering symbolism of the novel's conclusion. By contrast, Bell's descriptions of the action in and around the Square are vivid and heartbreaking--there are moments when the searing force of this fragment of recent history shines through the thin characters and eclipses the contrived plot. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1990
Release date: 11/01/1990
Prebound-Other - 199 pages - 978-0-606-04673-2
Mass Market Paperbound - 208 pages - 978-0-553-28864-3
Paperback - 199 pages - 978-0-385-25257-7
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-7807-2504-1
Prebound-Glued - 208 pages - 978-0-8335-5934-0
Mass Market Paperbound - 208 pages - 978-0-440-22679-6
Open Ebook - 978-0-385-67412-6
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