Summary and book reviews of Snow Falling in Spring by Moying Li

Snow Falling in Spring

Coming of Age in China During the Cultural Revolution

By Moying Li

Snow Falling in Spring
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  • Hardcover: Mar 2008,
    192 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2010,
    192 pages.

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Book Summary

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 father’s 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 China’s history as it tells the compelling story of one girl’s 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 it’s so small. ” I could not understand why Baba and his friends were eager for China, a large splash of green on Baba’s 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,...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

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).

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Media Reviews
Kirkus Reviews

The narrative will enable readers to sympathize with Li and feel relief when she leaves to study at Swarthmore College after ten years of education in China.

School Library Journal

Beautifully written...offers a somewhat broader view of a nation in turmoil and illustrates the grit and determination necessary for survival in a dysfunctional society.

Booklist

Starred Review. The simple, direct narrative will grab readers with the eloquent account of daily trauma and hope.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Li effectively builds the climate of fear that accompanies the rise of the Red Guard... Sketches about her grandparents root the narrative within a broader context of Chinese traditions as well as her own family's values.

New York Post

Required Reading - From 12 to 22, Moying Li witnessed... city dwellers and intellectuals sent to the countryside for forced farm labor; marauding Red Guards. Her school headmaster hanged himself. But she survives to become one of the first Chinese students to study in the U.S., and now lives in Boston. She tells the story with simple eloquence.

Reader Reviews
MaryAnnie

Inspiring
When I read this book I thought it was incredible. I learned a lot about the character and it taught me a lot, that I should be grateful for my education and everything because not everyone have the same level of education as I do and there are a lot...   Read More

Louise J

Compelling
Moying Li was 4-years-old in 1958 and lived with her maternal grandmother and grandfather, Lao Lao and Lao Ye in a traditional Chinese house. It was also occupied by her mother and father, her 3-year-old brother Di Di, aunts and uncles, the family ...   Read More

Laurie Milton

Inspiring!
This book was given to me as a birthday present and I am so grateful. The beautiful soul of writer Moying shines through and matches the beautiful author photograph. I am inspired to follow my dream and I deeply believe I can do it, referencing the...   Read More

H.

Supreme
I am only half way through the book but is one of the best books I have ever read! I usually do not read memoirs (because I like fiction) but my wonderful grandmother turned me to this book and I decided to give it a try. When i started to read Snow ...   Read More

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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 ...

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