From School Library Journal
Grade 5-9. This autobiography details the author's experiences as a teenager during the Cultural Revolution. Though wanting to be devoted followers of Chairman Mao, Jiang and her family are subjected to many indignities because her grandfather was once a landlord. Memoirs of the period are usually larded with murders, suicides, mass brainwashing, cruel and unusual bullying, and injustices. Red Scarf Girl is no exception. Where Jiang scores over her comrades is in her lack of self-pity, her naive candor, and the vividness of her writing. The usual catalogue of atrocities is filtered through the sensibility of a young woman trying to comprehend the events going on around her. Readers watch her grow from a follower into a thoughtful person who privately questions the dictates of the powers that be. She witnesses neighbors being beaten to death, her best friend's grandmother's suicide, the systematic degradation of her father, and endless public humiliations. At one point, Jiang even enters a police station to change her name in a confused attempt to dissociate herself from her branded and maligned family. She makes it very clear that the atrocities were the inevitable result of the confusion and fanaticism manipulated by unscrupulous leaders for their own petty ends. Ultimately, her resigned philosophy attaches no blame: this is what happens when power is grossly abused. The writing style is lively and the events often have a heart-pounding quality about them. Red Scarf Girl will be appreciated as a page-turner and as excellent discussion material for social studies curricula.?John Philbrook, formerly at San Francisco Public Library
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
A child's nightmare unfolds in Jiang's chronicle of the excesses of Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution in China in the late 1960s. She was a young teenager at the height of the fervor, when children rose up against their parents, students against teachers, and neighbor against neighbor in an orgy of doublespeak, name-calling, and worse. Intelligence was suspect, and everyone was exhorted to root out the ``Four Olds''--old ideas, old culture, old customs, and old habits. She tells how it felt to burn family photographs and treasured heirlooms so they would not be used as evidence of their failure to repudiate a ``black''--i.e., land-owning--past. In the name of the revolution, homes were searched and possessions taken or destroyed, her father imprisoned, and her mother's health imperiled--until the next round of revolutionaries came in and reversed many of the dicta of the last. Jiang's last chapter details her current life in this country, and the fates of people she mentions in her story. It's a very painful, very personal- -therefore accessible--history. (Memoir. 11-15) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.