I have been looking for books for our literature curriculum written by and based on Asian cultures. Unfortunately, it isn't terribly easy to find something that both fits those categories and is a worthwhile book to read in class with middle school students. Oh, there are books out there, but so many of them are written by American or European authors about Asian cultures. I was happy to find Revolution is not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine, a story about a young girl growing up in China at the end of Mao Ze-dong's Cultural Revolution.
Ling is nine years old and her biggest dream is to see the United States. Her father teaches her English in secret, shows her pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, and they sing English songs and read English books. But something is happening in China that threatens her family's way of life. Both her parents are doctors- her father of Western medicine and her mother of traditional Chinese medicine. During the Chinese Cultural...
I don't know how historically accurate this book is. But, having lived in China for a year, I know that much of what she describes did indeed happen during the Cultural Revolution. The book shows how easily people can turn on one another given the right situation. I found the book compelling, dramatic, and interesting. I loathe how dictators can totally destroy an entire culture and get people to follow blindly along. This book shows how devastating the Cultural Revolution was....I recommend this book to show what can happen when a strong leader becomes too powerful.
The combination of a very likable character caught in a very stressful time made this true story hard to put down. Reading about how Ling navigates the journey from privileged child to outcast provides a deep and personal account of what it is like to live through a political upheaval.
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