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

by Moying Li

Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008
192 pages
ISBN: 9780374399221

Ages 11-14

Moying Li adds to the small body of children's/YA literature about growing up during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Her memoir begins when she is four years old, during the Great Leap Forward that signaled the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. At first, her family and neighbors embraced the ideals enthusiastically. One of Moying's earliest memories is of the brick furnace her father built in the courtyard outside their house so they could contribute to building a new China by melting down unnecessary metal for construction material. After watching the stream of friends and relatives bringing their donations of household objects, Moying caught the revolutionary spirit and took it upon herself to donate some items from her grandmother's kitchen. Although her grandmother, Lao Lao, was obviously dismayed, she praised her granddaughter's spirit and generosity. This opening scene is representative of others in the book. She is surrounded by a family who loves her and who values education, and they are determined to survive. After her father is sent to a labor camp, he manages to smuggle a reading list home to Moying and her younger brother, so they can continue their education on their own, after their schools have shut down. The books she reads sustain her through the long years of struggle. As Moying grows, so, too, does her understanding of what's going on around her. In addition to providing a first-hand account of life in Beijing during the Cultural Revolution, the author also weaves in stories from her parents' and grandparents' pasts. Most intriguing of these are the stories about Lao Lao, her intelligent and strong-willed grandmother who, at age three, refused to let her aunt bind her feet, and who was educated in a time when few girls were. What we can see in Moying's story is that Lao Lao was a tremendous influence and inspiration in her life. And Moying’s strong sense of self and thirst for education seem to have come directly from her grandmother. (KTH) ©2008 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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