cover image Girl Under a Red Moon

Girl Under a Red Moon

Da Chen. Scholastic Focus, $17.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-338-26386-2

Chen (China’s Son) casts his steadfast oldest sister, Sisi, as the heroine of this middle grade memoir, which depicts the tense atmosphere at the dawn of China’s Cultural Revolution. When Chairman Mao comes to power in 1949, Communist policies forcefully disrupt Chinese society, and Sisi, an exemplary 13-year-old student, is expelled from school because of her grandfather’s former wealth. When Mama sends her to another town, eight-year-old Da, the family’s youngest child, insists on walking Sisi partway there; after they’re assaulted by school bullies, Sisi decides to take Da with her. Though the two quickly adjust to life in Bridge Town, they face additional trials as political tensions mount. Drawn directly from Da’s life, the anecdotal chapters don’t have the drama and resolution of a novel’s arc. Weighty topics, including politically motivated brutality, which are perhaps best suited to older middle grade readers, are relayed in stark, sometimes graphic prose: “their gooey brains splashed all over the walls of their ancestral home.” Still, Chen balances the scenes of violence with deftly painted landscapes, finding lyricism in the mundane in this illuminating young person’s view of the Cultural Revolution. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Alex Glass, Glass Literary. (Sept.) [/em]