Excerpt from Snow Falling in Spring by Moying Li, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Snow Falling in Spring

Coming of Age in China During the Cultural Revolution

By Moying Li

Snow Falling in Spring
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Mar 2008,
    192 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2010,
    192 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Standing at a safe distance, I became transfixed by the scene in front of me and forgot about my fear and my destroyed playground. Then, an idea hit me. I bolted into Lao Lao’s kitchen, threw open her large cabinet doors, and crawled on hands and knees in search of family treasure. I spotted a big water ladle at one corner of the cabinet and some spoons in a drawer, and threw them all into a bamboo basket next to the stove. I grabbed a large kettle and dropped it into the basket as well. Before darting outside, I surveyed the kitchen one last time and then threw Lao Lao’s heavy cleaver on top of my prizes. Dragging the basket behind me, I hurried as fast as my feet and the load would allow and dumped everything, basket and all, onto the mound of metal carefully selected by Da Jiu. Thank goodness I had been watching closely and knew which pile was the chosen one! I crept back behind the bamboo fence and slumped down in my little red chair, tired but satisfied. Throughout the day I sat there, spellbound. I shared every sign of triumph - the electrician patting the clerk’s shoulder, the clerk shaking the tailor’s hand, and then all of them giving a thumbs-up to Da Jiu. As the sun slowly set, leaving a trail of purple clouds in the crisp autumn sky, Da Jiu pushed his black-rimmed eyeglasses up and beamed.

Suddenly I heard Lao Lao’s voice. She had just returned home, ready to tackle dinner.

“Where is my kettle?” she asked, walking over to where I was sitting.

“Have you seen my cleaver?”

“Yes, I helped our country with it,” I replied proudly, without removing my eyes from the furnace. “Maybe they are burning it now. ”

Lao Lao rushed over to Da Jiu and his metal pile. Together, they found the kettle and some spoons, but not the big cleaver. The knife had joined its comrades in the burning fire, doing its share for China.

My escapade circulated around the dinner table that night. Choking from chewing and laughing at the same time, Baba turned to me and said,“It’s good that you want to help, but next time it would be best to check with Lao Lao first. ”

Our roaring furnace popped and burned day and night for months. Every morning at dawn, our courtyard came alive with clatter and chattering. Then one morning I woke up to silence. Something was different. I ran outside to see.

In the courtyard, Da Jiu and our neighbors sat on the woodpile, their heads bowed like those of defeated soldiers. The fire in the furnace had died, leaving a lingering smell of burnt wood.

“What happened, Da Jiu?”

“The iron and steel we made was not good enough. ” He sighed. I stared at him in disbelief. “We simply did not know enough to make it right,” he added.

Now I was sad, too. Climbing up the woodpile to sit next to him, I leaned my head against his shoulder, as crestfallen as he and our neighbors.

“But we tried so hard. ”

“Yes,” he said. “We did. ”

For days, we all avoided the courtyard. The abandoned red furnace stood in the center, alone and silent, along with a few scattered metal pieces and some half-burnt wood. We all tiptoed around it as if we were visiting a patient in the hospital. From time to time, I would find myself resting my chin against the bamboo fence and staring at my soundless enemy turned old friend, silently wishing him to roar for me one more time. But he only stared back.

For weeks, Lao Lao refused to replace her cleaver and used a small knife instead. It was not the money for a new cleaver that stopped her, even though nobody had much to spare. It was the principle. Our big knife had sacrificed itself for a cause and so should be honored. At least that was my interpretation. The roaring furnace, too, had done his best, even though his best was not good enough.

Excerpt from SNOW FALLING IN SPRING by Moying Li. Copyright © 2008 by Moying Li. Reproduced with permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC, in 2008. All rights reserved.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Take This Man
    Take This Man
    by Brando Skyhorse
    "A chorus of six men calling me Son might sound ludicrous to you, but to me it's the sound of ...
  • Book Jacket: The Hundred-Year House
    The Hundred-Year House
    by Rebecca Makkai
    Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"

    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist


Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.