Most people cannot remember when their childhood ended. I, on the other hand, have a crystal-clear memory of that moment. It happened at night in the summer of 1966, when my elementary school headmaster hanged himself.
In 1966 Moying, a student at a prestigious language school in Beijing, seems destined for a promising future. Everything changes when student Red Guards begin to orchestrate brutal assaults, violent public humiliations, and forced confessions. After watching her teachers and headmasters beaten in public, Moying flees school for the safety of home, only to witness her beloved grandmother denounced, her home ransacked, her fathers precious books flung onto the back of a truck, and Baba himself taken away. From labor camp, Baba entrusts a friend to deliver a reading list of banned books to Moying so that she can continue to learn. Now, with so much of her life at risk, she finds sanctuary in the world of imagination and learning.
This inspiring memoir follows Moying Li from age twelve to twenty-two, illuminating a complex, dark time in Chinas history as it tells the compelling story of one girls difficult but determined coming-of-age during the Cultural Revolution.
The Great Leap
It was a hot summer, and the words on every grown-up's lips
were Great Leap Forward. "In fifteen years", someone said, bubbling
with excitement,China will overtake Britain! Then, Baba
(Father) spun the wooden globe next to his desk and pointed
out to me where Britain was. Touching the spot with my fingertip,
I murmured, But its so small. I could not understand why
Baba and his friends were eager for China, a large splash of
green on Babas globe, to surpass another country that was only
a gray speck - smaller than some Chinese provinces. But the
glow of hope on their faces and the confidence in their voices
told me that this Great Leap Forward would be a big accomplishment -
something to be truly proud of. I trusted grownups
in those days with all my heart. This was the summer of 1958,
and I was four years old.
My family lived in Beijing with my maternal grandmother, Lao Lao, and maternal grandfather,...
Li's story, though rooted in China, will speak to every young person struggling to realize his or her ambitions, and to every loving family facing hardship or loss. Young readers will appreciate Li's plainspoken style, her restraint, and the clarity with which she describes the unthinkable as well as the beautiful. Adult readers will find much to admire, and will discover not only a poignant story of a vanished world, but a meditation on what parents can and cannot give their children: They cannot guarantee peace or prosperity, they cannot always be present, but as Li puts it, parents can bestow a profound "sense of direction."
(Reviewed by Jo Perry).
Full Review (816 words).
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 ...
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