Monday, August 04, 2008

Non-Fiction Monday

School is eating my brain. BUT! I did run into Susan today before class, which was great! I haven't seen her since... this fall? (Have we seen each other since Kids are Customers?) Also, because I blog everything I read, you might want to check this out.

I added a few new tracks to the MP3 widget on my sidebar.

Anyway, it's nonfiction Monday! So, today we're talking about...

Snow Falling in Spring: Coming of Age in China During the Cultural Revolution Moying Li

Li’s autobiography of her Beijing childhood starts with China’s disastrous Great Leap Forward and quickly moves through the Great Famine to the Cultural Revolution. In middle school at the time the Cultural Revolution began, she sees many of the confusing actions of high school and college students. After her headmaster commits suicide, she returns home, only to find no safe place as her family and their associates are targeted and imprisoned, several dying. As Li ages and the events hit closer and closer to home, her understanding of what is happening grows.

The narrative focuses more on Li’s personal story and, with the exception of the death of Zhou Enlai, the history and politics are only brought into play when explanation is needed. However, some things could use more explanation, such as why Li’s parents, both Communist veterans of the Revolution, are targets for the Red Guard.

Li’s English is straight-forward and she tells her story simply and matter-of-factly. In text explanations, as well as a chronology and a glossary of the Chinese terms add to the accessibility of this title. The pages are scattered with Li’s family photographs, which show a young girl growing up while the text outlines the drama, fear, and chaos that surrounded her.

Overall, I'm going to say it's a good introduction to the Cultural Revolution, even though some other books go into greater detail.

Back when we did the Weekly Geeks #12, Dewey asked:

What did you learn about China's culture that surprised you in Snow Falling in Spring?

Um, nothing. This isn't because there wasn't a lot in there, but I was a Chinese minor and college and spent a semester in Nanjing and have read a lot on the Cultural Revolution, so aside from Li's personal story, there wasn't a lot new for me in the book. For people who don't have a huge background in Chinese history, I think there is a lot to learn. I especially enjoyed her memories of the Great Leap Forward--it's not something you see a lot.

Round up is at Picture Book of the Day!

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