marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

Red Scarf Girl

Red Scarf Girl by Ji-li Jiang

I'm violating my usual practice of reading a book twice before reviewing, because I'm not sure I could read this twice.  It's a powerful book.  Being the author's autobiographical account of the Cultural Revolution.

Much of which she naively did not get in the beginning.  When her mother had to let their housekeeper go for fear that having her would lead to accusations, she thought that must be good because that meant they would no longer exploit her, even though the woman was crying as she left.  Watching the destruction of shop signs and talking with her friends about what new revolutionary names they should have, and being pleased when they get one right.

But things went onward, and, belonging to a "black" family because her grandfather was a landlord, she did not escape.  The first real hit was a poster at school targeting her as a teacher's pet and for her grades and declaring they must ask questions about her relationship with the teacher. Being rejected for a school post because of her background.  Her father being urged at work to confess, and a sober discussion of whether he should, for leniency, is rather mired by the problem that he's not sure what the charge is.  The damage to the school libraries and the way the school the teachers recommended her for was overruled.  The ugly scenes in the streets.

Peppered with valiant attempts to overcome her background as she was told she could.  Even the generous offer that she could lead the denunciation against her father -- they told of one daughter who had struck her father, though she didn't have to go that far.

A very powerful book.
Tags: history reviews: communism, history reviews: far east, history reviews: post wwii

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