51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Compelling Memoir in The World!
First of all, I must say this book deserves ten stars, not five. Ji-Li Jiang tells the story of her life being completely torn apart by the Cultural Revolution and her own thoughts and beliefs on Chinese Communism. Ji-Li, a distinguished student, is condescended at school because of her family's past. She watches in terror as her favorite teachers are being harrassed...
Published on August 5, 2000 by Andalucia
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sobering but important
Red Scarf Girl is one girl's story of how Mao's Cultural Revolution in China in the 1960s changed (ruined, really) life as she knew it. I was student-teaching in 7th grade when the class worked through this novel. The students were studying Mao in social studies and had lots of background knowledge. The names and some of the vocabulary are challenging but the edition we...
Published 20 months ago by Jenni Gilmer
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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Compelling Memoir in The World!,
First of all, I must say this book deserves ten stars, not five. Ji-Li Jiang tells the story of her life being completely torn apart by the Cultural Revolution and her own thoughts and beliefs on Chinese Communism. Ji-Li, a distinguished student, is condescended at school because of her family's past. She watches in terror as her favorite teachers are being harrassed at school, people's homes being ransacked, and her father being put in detention at his work building. Red Gaurds (enforcers of the Cultural Revolution) are everywhere, and they make sure that every well-to-do man, woman, child, is punished for being who they are. Insulting posters of propaganda turn up all over the city and Ji-Li's school. During all of the turmoil, Ji-Li is forced to choose between her family and the prestige and honor she has worked so hard for. Because of her family's political background, she loses the chance of getting into one of the best jounior high schools in China. Ji-Li begins to hate her ancestors for being who they were and she even begins to hate herself. She wishes that she were poor, so that she would not be ostracized for her way of living. However, despite all of her struggles, Ji-Li is determined to rise above those who stopped her from being who she wants to be. This is a wonderful book that I could not put down. Read this, and enjoy.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Opinion of Red Scarf Girl,
A Kid's Review
Red Scarf Girl was thought provoking and compelling book. The book is a memoir of one girl's experiences during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, a movement launched by the Communist government and its leader Chairman Mao, to purge China of people who did not follow the Communist ideals. At the start of the book the protagonist, a young girl named Ji-Li, is a Communist Party poster child. She believes in Chairman Mao and dreams of a career in the Chinese government. When she learns that her grandfather was a landlord (a group scorned by the government) she considers renouncing her family to follow the Communist party.
While reading Red Scarf Girl I often felt annoyed at Ji-Li because of her blind faith in the Communist party despite the horror going on around her, and I was impatient for her to come to her senses. Even so, it must have taken great strength for Ji-Li to write what she felt at the time because she seriously contemplated leaving her family, almost changing her name so she wouldn't be associated with them. Events of the Cultural Revolution are not always pleasant to read, but the book was hard to put down. By the end of the story I had gained a greater understanding and appreciation for the people such as Ji-Li who had to make those impossible choices. I thought that Red Scarf Girl was engrossing and memorable and I highly recommend it.
31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Cultural Revolution -- a review by Charlie, age 10,
A Kid's Review
Red Scarf Girl is about a memory of the Cultural Revolution. Ji-li Jiang is the main character. She also has a brother called Ji-yong Jiang and a little sister called Ji-yuong Jiang. She has a friend, An-Yi, who often helps her when she has a problem. Ji-li Jiang had a rich family. Being rich in China at that time could cause families to be separated. It could cause families who were rich five months ago to have to live in a cottage working on a farm, getting whipped by the farmers who owe the land they're working in. It could even cause them to be killed! Ji-li is aware of all of this, and is trying to keep her family safe.
This is not a fiction book -- it is a memory about what Ji-li Jiang thought about the Cultural Revolution. You might think that this book is a girl book; but it's really about how people lived in the Cultural Revolution. If you like humor, this is not the book you're looking for -- it has a little humor in it, but it really is a sad story. Nothing goes well in the story. All the cliffhangers keep the reader in the story to see what happens next. Not all chapters end with cliffhangers, but sometimes there is a cliffhanger in the middle of a page which make the reader read a lot faster to see what happens to the person or what happens next. This book is a really detailed story about how people lived during the Cultural Revolution.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Chinese Heroine,
Ji-li Jiang, the writer and main character of the Red Scarf Girl, was a girl who grew up in China. The Cultural Revolution, started by Mao Ze-dong, began the year Ji-li turned 12 years old, in 1966. Her early life was joyful. Ji-li was respected because she was intelligent and she was trusted. However, soon she learns she is from a landlord family, which is one of China's Five Black Categories. Chairman Mao wanted all of China's Five Black Categories to be punished. This would include Ji-li Jiang. She then realized that some of her opportunities would have to be given up, like her not becoming a Red Successor or Red Guard because of her background. The Red Scarf Girl is a worthwhile read because it shows how Ji-li Jiang is a model hero. She is intelligent, mentally strong, and brave.
Ji-li was intelligent and was at the top of her classes. Throughout the book, Ji-li was the smartest student, had perfect test scores, and she was given the biggest opportunities because of her academics. Ji-li helped other students in math because she was the best in the math class. This was one of the honors given to her because she was intelligent. In addition, her perfect tests reflected how she was so dedicated to her studies. Early in the book, Ji-li was given the opportunity to be a Liberation Army soldier because she was intelligent, physically strong, and flexible. However, Ji-li could not be a Liberation Army soldier because of her family background. Ji-li was given many chances to succeed because she was intelligent and she used her gifts to go beyond what her family history limited her to. When she could not be a Liberation Army soldier, Ji-li kept on studying hard because later in her life, she might be given that chance once more.
Ji-li Jiang, in addition to being intelligent, was mentally strong throughout the Cultural Revolution. She went through many tough times, like when she went through reading a da-zi-bao about her and her teacher, Ke Cheng-li. During the Cultural Revolution, a da-zi-bao was a posted note that humiliated people by telling others what the accused person was charged with. The da-zi-bao was about how Ji-li Jiang was Ke Cheng-li's favorite student. During this time, Ji-li used her mental strength to get through her troubles. She did not take revenge upon the people who wrote this about her although she was the one who helped them through their questions and troubles in the classroom.
During the Cultural Revolution, Ji-li Jiang remained brave, in addition to being intelligent and mentally strong. Later in the book, Ji-li Jiang, along with other classmates, went to work on the rice farms as summer labor. Everyone had to work either in the factories or on the rice farms. At first, Ji-li choose to work in the factories so she could look after her family. Her father was forced to work in labor because he had performed a counterrevolutionary crime, which he refused to confess. A counterrevolutionary crime is a crime that is done against the Communist party. Ji-li's family did not see him for more than three months. Without her father, Ji-li had to go work. Her grandmother was too old to work in labor, and her mother had Ménière's disease. Ménière's disease causes one to be dizzy, weak, and nauseous. Ji-li's mother could not work under these conditions. Lastly, her younger sister, Ji-yun, and her younger brother, Ji-yong, were too young to be able to work in labor. However, a friend, Chang Hong, told Ji-li if she worked on the rice farms, she could work hard so the officials would overlook her family background throughout the summer. It was then Ji-li became brave and left her family to work in the rice-fields.
Ji-li was intelligent, mentally strong, and brave. She always tried to succeed, even when she was held back by her family history. Ji-li was mentally strong, even when she was humiliated among friends and neighbors. Lastly, Ji-li was brave, as when she left her family to work on the rice farms by herself. The Red Scarf Girl is well written. Ji-li Jiang's troubles allow us to know how hard it was to grow up in a politically oppressed family during the Cultural Revolution. She was a real life hero.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A review of Red Scarf girl,
In today's world, people are taught that heroic people must influence the masses. Only those who have monumental physical strength, celebrity status, or piles of money have the resources to affect the world around them. Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang disproves these notions. This non-fiction book tells the story of a 12 year-old girl growing up in the midst of the Cultural Revolution who becomes a hero to her family. The glossary at the end of the book defines the Cultural Revolution as "The social and political upheaval that overtook China from 1966 to 1976. During this time many innocent people were ruthlessly persecuted. THe Cultural Revolution was launched by Chairman Mao, supposedly to rid the country of anti-Communist influences. Long afterward it was revealed that Chairman Mao unleashed this chaos in order to protect his own political position." (pg. 276) Red Scarf Girl is a moving, well-written story.
The book opens with a prologue, in which Ji-Li tells the reader the single most important lesson in school: "Heaven and earth are great, but greater still is the kindness of the Communist Party; father and mother are dear, but dearer still is Chairman Mao." (pg. 1) The people of China are brainwashed with this mantra, but Ji-Li does not feel it plays a large role in her life until sixth grade. Always a high achiever, she is looking forward to attending Shi-yi, an elite middle school. Then, Chairman Mao nullifies all teacher recommendations and divides children into schools by neighborhood; meaning Ji-Li will not go to Shi-yi. This is only the beginning of Ji-Li's problems. She becomes an outcast in school, her house is searched and Communist officers take everything of value, all because of her family's middle class status. Ji-Li's father is held in prison because his father was the evilest of all men - a landlord. Ji-Li is offered freedom from her "black" (non-Communist) class status by Communist officers. All she has to do is break from her family and testify against her father. No 12 year old should have to make the decisions she did.
Ji-Li Jiang used literary techniques to tell her story effectively. She is very descriptive, for example, "The kitchen, located on the landing and crowded with pots and pans and a two burner stove, was crowded and stuffy. With the heat from the sun outside and the heat from the stove in front of me, I was simply melting." (pg. 90) Ji-Li uses dialogue to make the story more interesting. Though she may not have remembered exactly what everyone said, the dialogue keeps the book moving. Although the book does not tell of her life throughout the entire Cultural Revolution, the book has a satisfying ending; not a fairytale finish, but a hopeful one. All of these storytelling elements enrich Red Scarf Girl.
One of the most important qualities of a hero is selflessness. Ji-Li Jiang showed this repeatedly. A Communist officer offered to let her change her name in order to break from her "anti-Communist" family. She almost does, but then, "I thought of Aunt Xi-wen lying in the alley (being punished for having bad class status), and Shan-Shan (her son, who had "broken" from her) walking right past her. I jumped up and ran out." (pg. 215) Later, people from her father's work unit pulled her out of class and gave her a very serious decision to make. "'As I told you before, you are your own person. If you want to make a clean break with your black family, then you can be an educable child and we will welcome you to our revolutionary ranks'...I saw myself standing in the middle of the stage, facing thousands of people...condemning Dad for his crimes, raising my fist to lead the chant." (pg. 224-5) Ji-Li refuses his offer, which meant that although she would be frowned upon in society, she would remain faithful to her family. It would have been easy for Ji-Li to change her name or testify against her father to save herself. Heroes, however, have the strength to be selfless.
Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang shows how one 12 year old had the strength to be a hero, to be selfless. Ji-Li was not rich, very physically strong, or well-known. She only put others before herself, a truly heroic action. Clearly, Ji-Li Jiang put her best effort into this book. Red Scarf Girl is exceptionally written, and can inspire everyone.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Real Panorama of the Cultural Revolution,
By A Customer
Red Scarf Girl is an excellent book wrote by author Ji-Li Jiang, who grew up in Communist China, facing all of the downfalls of the political party, and ending up being criticized by everyone just because of her family's political background. Ji-Li explains all that went on in great detail, having no problems with backing up her details with more and more details, giving you the feel of actually being there during the Cultural Revolution.
The book explains how harsh Communism was during the Cultural Revolution, and how so many people did everything and believed in everything that Chairman Mao did. Being in a rich family, she and the rest of her family were constantly criticized because of this and her 'bad' political background.
She explains the characters in the book very well (her family members, Chairman Mao himself, her friends, etc.) and really lets you get to know their personality. You're almost inside of the book, watching as the Red Guards are practically terrorizing Ji-Li, seeing her friends turn their backs on her, and listening to the hateful words that the government says about people's families such as Ji-Li's.
This is an excellent book, whether you know a lot about the Cultural Revolution or not. Ji-Li Jiang is really skilled in explaining what she sees, and will allow you to know what really went on with the Communist Party and the Cultural Revolution from the 1950s to the 1970s.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting,
This is a wonderful book that drew me in. I really felt for Ji-Li Jiang, the main character. I read it when I was in elementary school and didn't know anything about the Cultural Revolution. It educated me and I also liked how realistic it was (that's because it is a true story) and how Ji-Li agreed with communism, and it took a long time for her to realize how wrong it was even though she herself suffered a lot.
It's not five stars though. It's a good book and I can't find anything wrong with it, but I've read better and it's not one of my favorite books. But I still highly recommend it.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Story and a must read,
I happened on this book in the children's section of a bookstore while on vacation and decided to read it. All I can is that everyone young and old should read it. Ji-Li tells a story that is both heartbreaking and tense with drama, but also one of courage and determination. If you take your present polictical freedoms for granted you need to read this. If you think that similiar situations could not take place in the USA, you need to read this book and think again. Great reading is not just for esacpe, this book will make you think.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hit to the Heart,
By A Customer
As a Chinese teen, both my parents went through the Cultural Revolution in China. I was always aware of this fact for the mentioned the hardships they had to go through constantly to me. I realized they were trying to tell me how good I have it here in America but I never really paid attention - until I read this book. I could not put it down because if I did, I felt like I was turning my back on my mom and dad. This is what they went through and I could not comprehend until I read this compelling book.
To devote your life to a man who ends up destroying is the story of many people's lives in China. Ji-Li is sent away to the countryside to work for the country and cannot see her family. Her precious memories of her family (the pictures) are destroyed and her family is torn. This was such the life of many. For some histories such as my family's, it may be hard to read. However for EVERYONE, it is necessary. We need to learn about what has happened.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution,
The memoir Red Scarf Girl by Ji Li Jiang is a poignant and true story about a young girl's coming of age during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Set in the late 60s, Ji Li was an enthusiastic Young Pioneer who dreamed of becoming a part of Chairman Mao's renowned Liberation Army. However, the intelligent young girl was about to get a startling insight into the true nature of the Communist Party. This memoir shows how youthful enthusiasm and patriotism were exploited by the political party and plunged the era into tragedy and turmoil.
Throughout the book, there is a constant stream of unpleasant events popping up in Ji Li's life. Chairman Mao was a turgid river, washing away the soil that was Ji Li's revolutionary spirit with the sticks and stones of hard work and poverty until her righteous courage began to shine through. The many hardships she faced only served to strengthen her in ways she had not known she had before. She found out that she had an inner courage and stubbornness, as well as the feeling that what they were doing in school was wrong. Events at school, at home, and even in the street were gradually showing Ji Li that Chairman Mao's Revolutionary China would not be at all what they expected.
Ji Li Jiang had always thought of her family as perfect. In times when rooms were small and cramped, her family had a room ten times as large and a hundred times brighter than many of her classmates. On Saturdays there would sometimes be wonderful parties where her Dad's colleagues would come and visit. Everything was perfect in her life until the Liberation Army Dancer came to Xin Er Primary School. After being tested for flexibility, Ji Li was chosen as one of the few students recruited for the honor of auditioning for the elite Central Liberation Army Arts Academy. However, when she shared the happy news with her family during dinner, their reaction was different from what she expected. "Don't do the audition" was all her father said, but those words revealed that the political background of her family was not as perfect as she would like to believe. Should she obey her father or pursue her dream? None of her classmates at school could see the inner battle that wreaked havoc within Ji Li's mind. Then, when some of them turned upon her in revolutionary righteousness, Ji Li was thrown even deeper into confusion.
When she was forced to listen to her bourgeois Aunt Xi-wen read the shameful da zi bao posted about her that Ji Li realized that there was something truly wrong with Chairman Mao's ideology. Surrounded by her revolutionary classmates, however, she could do nothing but stare at her feet in shame. When her father was detained on the basis of a false accusation of listening to foreign radio, Ji Li was pressured to stand against her father in trial. By so doing, she would be allowed to purge herself of her family's bad class status and go on to become a Red Successor. Ji Li knew that it was not the right thing to do. She stolidly refused to betray her father each and every time the matter came up and it showed that there was a great deal of inner strength in the 14-year-old girl.
The story of the Red Scarf Girl flows smoothly. The honest and straightforward way that Ji Li retells her childhood makes the reader feel as if he/she were really there. However, it is mildly depressing to follow so many tragic events in a young girl's life. For readers who are looking for fun books to read, this is not a good choice.
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Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang (Paperback - 1997)
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