Girl Under a Red Moon: Growing Up During China’s Cultural Revolution

Scholastic. Sept. 2019. 208p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338263862.
Gr 4-6–During China’s Cultural Revolution, being a landowner (or a former landowner, or someone related to one) was a dangerous role with far-reaching consequences. Chen’s memoir details many of those consequences through his experiences with his older sister Sisi. After endless torment in school for her heritage, Sisi attempted to end her life by jumping off a cliff. When a neighbor interceded, Sisi was given an opportunity to run away to a farming school in another village even more rural than her own—and brought Da along in the hope of bettering his life, too. What the siblings found at their new school in Bridge Town was hard labor during the day, education in the evening, and protection in Principal Jin, a resistor of Chairman Mao who hoped the remoteness of the village would keep him and his students safe. But the Cultural Revolution came for Bridge Town, too, and with it came tragedy. Chen’s memoir brings the Cultural Revolution to life, though readers will have to pay close attention, as some details important to the story are addressed only briefly.
VERDICT This memoir of Maoist China will find a deserving place in classrooms alongside Ji-lin Jiang’s Red Scarf Girl as a teaching tool of Chinese history.

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