BookBrowse Reviews Snow Falling in Spring by Moying Li

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 by Moying Li
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2008, 192 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2010, 192 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


Li's restrained and elegiac memoir of a childhood savagely interrupted, a family bruised but unbowed, and tattered dreams realized will fascinate and enlighten readers young and old

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 happy and proud when the newspaper announces that over 400,000 sparrows have been destroyed in their city. But without the sparrows to keep the insect population in check, the rice and wheat crops fail and millions of people die of starvation and suffer deprivation.

But Li's deprivations are not only physical: The cessation of education, the degradation of teachers, and the destruction of, and preservation of, books is central to Li's story. Li's father is a thoughtful and literate man, and when he is arrested, his treasured library of Chinese and western classics is thrown into sacks and carted off with him. (Later, Li's brother discovers an old man guarding a warehouse full of condemned books from which he rescues The Call of the Wild, a childhood favorite.) From the labor camp where he is imprisoned, Li's father sends his children a reading list—and it is this list that inspires Li to begin what she calls a "secret reading club." She borrows forbidden books and dictionaries from friends and relatives and sets about the daunting task of mastering Russian, American and English literature, including Shakespeare. Fortified and inspired by her reading, Li boldly smuggles a copy of Huckleberry Finn to a friend by hiding it in a box labeled "FOOD." The friend covers the forbidden tome in the jacket of a book by Chairman Mao, and devours it in secret. In the wasteland of the Cultural Revolution, forbidden books are sustenance, escape, and an emotional reunion with those Li has lost.

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

This review was originally published in May 2008, and has been updated for the March 2010 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Dark Flood Rises
    The Dark Flood Rises
    by Margaret Drabble
    Margaret Drabble, the award-winning novelist and literary critic who is approaching eighty and ...
  • Book Jacket: All Our Wrong Todays
    All Our Wrong Todays
    by Elan Mastai
    You need a great deal of time to read All Our Wrong Todays, but don't let that put you off. ...
  • Book Jacket: Dadland
    Dadland
    by Keggie Carew
    In her notable debut, Keggie Carew examines the life of her father Tom, a decorated war hero whose ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Atomic Weight of Love
by Elizabeth J. Church

In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife, this resonant debut spans from World War II through the Vietnam War.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Lola
    by Melissa Scrivner Love

    An astonishing debut crime thriller about an unforgettable woman.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Our Short History
    by Lauren Grodstein

    Lauren Grodstein breaks your heart, then miraculously pieces it back together so it's stronger, than before.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Don't join the book burners...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

O My D B

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -