Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Revolution is Not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine
This fiction book reminded me a lot of Red Scarf Girl, which is a nonfiction book. Both books are about young Chinese girls caught up in the Cultural Revolution. Revolution is Not a Dinner Party is about Ling, the only daughter of two doctors. When the book opens life is pretty good, but little by little things get worse after Comrade Li moves into Ling's family's apartment. He is the voice of the communist party and is looking for people he can get into trouble. Neighbors get taken away to work camps and publicly beaten, and Ling's own father is taken away to prison. The book covers four years of Ling's life in this oppressive government system. I thought the events and historical aspects were very interesting, but to kids with no background in Chinese history I think much of it would be hard to follow. I also found that I didn't really feel emotionally attached to Ling. There was something distant in her way of narrating the book that left me disconnected. The writing is good and it is an interesting time period to learn about, but since it was a fiction book I wanted more. I had the impression that the author probably was telling a true story, and if that is the case, I would have preferred to read the nonfiction version. I will be very curious to know if kids read and like this book.