cover image The Crystal Monkey

The Crystal Monkey

Patrick Nohrden. Cedar Fort/Sweetwater, $16.99 trade paper (292p) ISBN 978-1-4621-1481-8

In Nohrden's debut novel, Min Li is a girl coming of age during the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the years thereafter. She believes that China is the greatest country in the world, but her faith is shaken when the Red Guards exile and execute several members of her community. Growing up under Mao, she begins to question not only oppressive communist ideology, but also the traditional principles of Chinese society. She struggles against a traditional patriarchal family and mores that would keep her illiterate because of her gender and steer her into loveless marriage. Offsetting the hardships of daily life, Min Li experiences dreams of hope and a happy future mysteriously connected to a crystal monkey, a toy from her childhood. Nohrden's story offers an education in Chinese history; seen through Min Li's perspective, opportunities rise and fall during the Cultural Revolution, the Great Leap Forward, the death of Mao Zedong, and the rise of Deng Xiaoping. Nohrden crafts an absorbing story about how political and social factors shape the thoughts and opportunities of individuals. Ages 12%E2%80%93up. (Nov.)