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Review: Red Scarf Girl by Ji Li Jiang

in a sentence or so: Ji-li is a very smart 12 year old girl with a loving family, a leader at school, and close friends. When the much anticipated and supported Cultural Revolution begins, she soon discovers the confusion and horror that humanity is capable of.

Ji-li's story begins with the start of the Cultural Revolution in China. She is passionate about the revolution, about Chairman Mao, and about getting rid of "fourolds", or the old ways of life to make China a new and better country. She witnesses other families torn apart by the persecution and pointing of fingers of the "authority figures" who were just days before the local weirdos. Her entire world is dumped upside down when her plans for school changes, her social status in school and at home changes, and her family is no longer happy and smiling, but worried and having late night discussions in the bathroom in secret. Throughout her story, Ji-li is faced with the wonderful revolution or staying true to her family, and what exactly both sides mean to her.

This book was incredibly conversational and I felt (as the reader) I was friends with Ji-li from the way she wrote. The reader is able to feel her frustration and experience the confusion. Her words are that of innocence that is quickly fading with her struggle to please schoolmates, Chairman Mao, and her family - which is impossible because of their differing values. This memoir serves to fill in all of the world what it was like for a 12 year old during this time in China, and her story is just one among many. The young adult reader in me felt confused right along side Ji-li. What was she supposed to do? Give herself totally to her country at the expense of her family? Give up on her country to be with her loving family? The adult reader in me knows how the Cultural Revolution ends, and just hopes she will be able to make the "right decision" and stick it out. This memoir takes us through the most difficult time and decisions of Ji-li's life, and it does so in a simple eloquence that keeps the reader turning pages and hoping the best for Ji-li and her family.

Title: Red Scarf Girl
Author: Ji Li Jiang
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Publisher: HarperCollins
Amazon | Goodreads

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. read "Wild Swans" by June Chang (i think). it's not YA Lit, but it's goodness. and non-fiction. do it now.


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