Li reconstructs her childhood and girlhood through a series of
fragile and powerful vignettes: Fragile because the pre-revolutionary China that
informs her values and shapes her childhood is obliterated before she is old
enough to take her place within it; powerful because Li's family's suffers
cruelties so arbitrary that they are almost surreal, and are threatened by a
savagery wholly indifferent to the familial or the personal.
The brutal ironies commence with the Great Leap Forward: Li's family and
neighbors eagerly relinquish pots, pans and metal objects to Li's father's
homemade brick furnace until they realize that they don't know how to make
iron or steel. Then in 1959 comes the government-ordered eradication of
sparrows: Li's family and neighbors enthusiastically shoot the birds or drive
them off by banging pots and pans. Li's family is...
Beyond the Book
Banned and Challenged Books in America
Some of the most memorable and painful moments in Snow Falling in Spring
involve the solace of reading and the loss and destruction of books.
American readers might be surprised to know that in America books are frequently
challenged and even banned.
The American Library Association explains the difference between a challenge
and a banning of a book as follows: "A challenge is an attempt to remove or
restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is
the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person
expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from
the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the...