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China's Son: Growing Up in the Cultural Revolution Mass Market Paperback – July 13, 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Born in 1962 in southern China, Da Chen had monumental hurdles to overcome before he could even walk or talk. Mao Tse-tung's Cultural Revolution was in full swing, and the descendents of landlords, who were despised, were routinely stripped of their wealth, beaten, humiliated, and sent off to labor camps. Da Chen, the grandson of a landlord, lives several parallel lives: he excels in school but then gives up studying in the face of unbearable pressure and harassment from teachers, students, and administrators. He is a self-taught musician but also a member of a gang of toughs. His siblings, banned from school, work from before sunrise to sunset in the muddy, backbreaking rice fields. But eventually all the dichotomies in Da's life come together, and he makes a break for a new life, with higher education as his foundation for future success.

Da Chen's engrossing memoir, adapted for younger readers from his book Colors of the Mountain, paints a colorful, painful, sometimes humorous picture of life during the 1960s and '70s, when formerly privileged Chinese families were at the mercy of Chairman Mao and his ruthless Red Guard soldiers. The writing is at times jerky, other times poetic, and Da Chen's time frame can be confusing. However, this is a book young readers will not soon forget, especially if it's their first glimpse of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. (Ages 12 and older) --Emilie Coulter --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Adapted for young adults from Chen's memoir (Colors of the Mountain), this coming-of-age tale traces the author's boyhood in Maoist China. Born in 1962, Chen grows up in privation and humiliation as the grandson of former landlords. His family has been stripped of property and is cruelly treated by fellow villagers and politicos. Chen's siblings must quit school to become farmers, his father is fired from his teaching job and repeatedly hauled off to labor camp, and his grandfather is publicly beaten. Chen's only recourse is to excel at his studies ("I shone, despite their efforts to snuff me out"). The pacing here lurches a bit; what may have worked well for adult audiences could throw younger readers. However, humor and unflinching honesty inform the narrative, which is shot through with lyrical descriptions ("my fate stood undecided, wavering in the wind like a blade of grass along the Dong Jing River"). Some of the most involving scenes revolve around the boy's gradual inclusion in a Huck Finn-esque gang that cares little about his privileged background. Young adults interested in this area of history may wish to read Ji-li Jiang's recent Red Scarf Girl, which chronicles her adolescence at the time Mao was taking power. Chen's reminiscences add another intriguing perspective on this turbulent time. Ages 12-up.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf (July 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 044022926X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440229261
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 0.6 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #786,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As a 12 year old student, I was assigned to read China's Son as a class project. As usual, I took one look at the cover and felt discouraged. But as I worked my way through the book, I actually began to understand the meaning of Da Chen's words.
Growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution was difficult for poverty stricken Da Chen. The book shows how he deals with his hardships, going from top student to the child no one likes, just because of his social standing. Da even joins a gang of hoodlums in his neighborood, and slowly becomes disinterested in the school he once loved. After dealing with family issues, Da realizes that he wants more in life then to become an uneducated farmer. Determined to succeed, he studies to enter one of China's best collages. Da Chen leaves readers on edge, hoping and praying that Da will make it into collage.
Although the book started off slowly for me, I would most definately reccomend it to any jr. through high schooler. Reading about Da Chen's determination is inspirational!
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Format: Hardcover
As an adult interested in China and the Cultural Revolution and having traveled many times to China, I read this book not really expecting to glean much from it. It was well written though and appropriately rated. I found Da Chen a character I could relate with (even as an adult) and discovered his account to be full of emotion: frightened, bitter, angry, excited, happy etc.. I think most of the "facts" were presented in truth.
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Format: Paperback
China's Sons is the intensely personal account of Da Chen, born in China in 1962, is reviewed here for its importance to many an adult reader as well. Chen and his family were outcasts in Communist China, and Da had to drop out of school as a result. When Mao died, Da faced a long struggle to regain his education and go to college � and his entire family helped him succeed. China's Son is an inspirational, insightful autobiography.
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Format: Paperback
This was a great story but in order to enjoy the WHOLE story one must read the WHOLE story. This book is the abridged version of Colors of the Mountain. While this book grabs all the highlights if you're as nitpicky as I am I recommend you read Colors of the Mountain instead. Either is bound to give you a great tale; it's just a question of whether you want it all or just the highlights.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've read several books on the Chinese Cultural Revolution at this point. I would recommend this one as a great introductory book into the subject (Aaong with "Red Scarf Girl"). Both are very well written, easy to read, and touch on a lot of aspects of the Cultural Revolution in terms of daily life.
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By Bjc on November 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is beautifully written and opened up the real history of the cultural revolution to me.
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A Kid's Review on December 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
I think china's Son by Da Chen is a great book. It talks about what had happened during the Culture Revolution which the author Da Chen had lived between. Also since his family was a landlord, and Mao didn't like rich people. Their land were taken and their father was sent to labor camp.

I think this book-China's Son would be great for people who are from 12~16 and who wants to learn about what had happened during the Culture Revolution.
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