for Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party
by Ying Chang Compestine
The impact of China’s Cultural Revolution on the lives of a Chinese family unfolds through the eyes Ling, who is nine as this story begins. Her father is a doctor who admires the west and is teaching her English; her mother is a traditional healer. Ling’s perspective on the revolutionary changes is authentically childlike. At school, she is singled out and bullied as one of the few children who hasn’t joined the Young Pioneers. At home, as government restrictions tighten, she longs for the pretty dresses her mother used to make her (flowered fabric is no longer sold) and misses her favorite foods. When Comrade Li, a political officer for Mao’s government, moves into her building, and indeed, into a room that was formerly part of her own apartment, Ling sees only his charm at first. She gradually realizes what her parents already understand—he is a threat. Comrade Li becomes the driving force behind many arrests and scenes of public humiliation as the Red Guard rounds up neighbors, friends, and eventually family. The moment Ling realizes her father, whom she idolizes, cannot protect her family is painful and powerful—one of many achingly real revelations in Ying Chang Compestine’s compelling novel, based in part on her own family’s experiences. (Ages 10–14)
CCBC Choices 2008. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2008. Used with permission.
The summer of 1972, before I turned nine, danger began knocking on doors all over China.
Nine-year-old Ling has a very happy life. Her parents are both dedicated surgeons at the best hospital in Wuhan, and her father teaches her English as they listen to Voice of America every evening on the radio. But when one of Mao's political officers moves into a room in their apartment, Ling begins to witness the gradual disintegration of her world. In an atmosphere of increasing mistrust and hatred, Ling fears for the safety of her neighbors, and soon, for herself and her family. For the next four years, Ling will suffer more horrors than many people face in a lifetime. Will she be able to grow and blossom under the oppressive rule of Chairman Mao? Or will fighting to survive destroy her spirit-and end her life?
Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party is a 2008 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.