Red Scarf Girl (Reprint) (Paperback) product details page

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Red Scarf Girl (Reprint) (Paperback)

Author: Ji-Li Jiang

Age: Teen

Rating: Not rated: write a review
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product specification

  • Book Subgenre: Family / General, People + Places / Asia, Biography + Autobiography / Political
  • Language: english
  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: paperback
  • Book Genre: Juvenile Nonfiction
  • Age: Teen

Reviewer: Janice M. Del Negro, (Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books)

"...successfully conveys what it is like to live under a totalitarian regime in which the individual has no rights and information is tightly controlled. Her voice is that of an intelligent, confused adolescent, and her focus on the effects of the revolution on herself, her family, and her friends provides an emotional focal point for the book, and will allow even those with limited knowledge of Chinese history to access the text."

The passionate tone of this memoir, Jiang's first book for children, does not obstruct the author's clarity as she recounts the turmoil during China's Cultural Revolution. It is 1966, and Ji-li, a highly ranked student, exceptional athlete and avid follower of Mao zealously joins her classmates in denouncing the Four Olds: "old ideas, old culture, old customs and old habits." Tables are turned, however, when her own family's bourgeois heritage is put under attack. Even when the 12-year-old's dreams of a successful career are dashed (as quickly as her opportunities to attend a prestigious high school and to join youth organizations), and she must watch in horror as relatives, teachers, neighbors and friends are publicly humiliated and tortured, her devotion to ingrained Communist principals remains steadfast ("It was only after Mao's death that I knew I was deceived," she says in the epilogue). Jiang paints a detailed picture of everyday life in Shanghai ("Almost every Sunday afternoon Dad wanted to take a long nap in peace, and so he gave us thirty fen to rent picture books") while slowly adding the dark strokes of political poison that begin to invade it. Her undidactic approach invites a thoughtful analysis of Ji-li's situation and beliefs. She astutely leaves morals and warnings about corruption and political control to be read between the lines.

Reviewer: John Philbrook, (San Francisco Chronicle Book Review)

"Jiang tires to re-create what she was thinking and saying at the time. This leads to much fictionalized dialogue, and Jiang changed names to shield the victims. Still, this re-creation of a sensitive girl's reaction to the maelstrom of her environment rings true. The writing is lively, and the narration often is heart-poundingly suspenseful."

Reviewer: Carol Edwards, (Five Owls)

"Seemingly simple, this account brings readers fact to face with understanding the way every society has assumptions about choices and values....Jiang's memoir changes the way we see the world and ourselves."

"It's a very painful, very personal--therefore accessible--history."

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