From Publishers Weekly
What matters about this semi-autobiographical coming-of-age "novel," cobbled together from the journal entries of a teenage scribbler who grew up in Beijing in the 1990s, is that it was banned in mainland China, ostensibly for its too-frank portrayal of the sex-drenched, drug-addled and music-obsessed world of that country's materialistic middle-class youngsters. The ban places it alongside two other "cruel youth" Chinese novels, Mian Mian's Candy
and Wei Hui's Shanghai Baby
, both of which rode their notoriety (and little else) to decent sales in the West. Chun's tale begins near the end of her third year in middle school as she fails her high school entrance exams and promptly embarks on an aimless and relentlessly solipsistic odyssey of love, sex, rock shows and academic disappointments—all part of a fight for some hazily defined freedom—punctuated here and there with suicide fantasies. There is no sense of either growth or dissolution in any of this, despite the novel's constant claims to both. Chun shows some promise as a writer, as evidenced by bits of refreshing literary experimentation and a surprising command of irony; she has also wooed the respected Goldblatt as translator. Whether she realizes her potential, however, may depend largely on how well she shuts out the dubious praise she has won, in China and abroad, with this book.
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"Reveals the cruel youth of a new generation...reflects upon the fast changing society of Mainland China." Asian Weekly
"This original...important book reveals with brutal frankness that the cruelties and frustrations of youth are not lost in translation. Teen Vogue
"Reading about her adventures is like living vicariously through the most uninhibited girl you know." YM