Snow Falling in Spring: Coming of Age in China During the Cultural Revolution by Moying Li.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux: NY, 2008.

Moying Li was twelve at the start of the Cultural Revolution. She attended a prestigious international language school. Everything changed, however, when student Red Guards denounced her teachers, administrators and other students. Public humiliations and arrests became the norm.

The beating of her headmasters was the last straw, and she retreated to her home. On arrival, she found her grandmother, with whom she had lived as a child, denounced, the house ransacked and books taken or destroyed, and her father forcibly removed. Her mother earlier had been forced to teach at a school far removed from their home.

The next decade was chaotic. She managed to avoid being sent to a labor camp, but some relatives and friends were not as lucky. After a few years, she was able to return to school, but with restrictive conditions. She continued to study on her own with a mentor, retired and forgotten by officials.

Moying Li has written about frightening times in a way that is not totally depressing and hopeless. She was fortunate in the progression of her own life, though she was ravaged by misfortune and fear throughout the Cultural Revolution.

Moying Li's story is a tiny piece of history in, for me, unknown territory. I grew up during this period also, when China cut itself off from the West and the Communist scare was still fresh in the minds of adults (though she is a little older than me). Little news was given then or since, and it is hard to know what is real or propaganda. I am struck by the gentleness and love of the Chinese people I have met. It does not fit with the image portrayed those long years ago. So, naturally, I would like to know more. How much has China changed since the end of the Revolution? How many of the students who came to study in the U.S. or other Western countries went back to live in China?

related-personal narratives, People's Republic of China-history, Cultural Revolution, Great Leap Forward, Mao Zedong, communism, coming of age, secret reading club

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