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The Little Red Guard: A Family Memoir Hardcover – April 26, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
The tale unfolds at the level of "ordinary" people living in near poverty and obedience to authority. Yet, as the grandson grows into manhood and samples the best of Western education, his slavish devotion to Party rapidly fades. Hiding a coffin no longer seems a foolish violation of government rule but more a symbol of family ties that trump any doctrines dictators may try to impose.
This book is a view into a culture and a family that, in final analysis, is not really that much different than my own. The book begins with a simple request by an aging grandmother that she be buried next to her husband and not be cremated, as was the requirement to conserve land in Communist China. We move through the years with Wenguang's family as his father struggles to honor his mother's request, even though that may jeopardize his career and status in the community and even though it may endanger him and his family. As time went on, Wenguang's father died, and the burden of honoring the last wishes of Wenguang's grandmother passed to him and the rest of his family.
This book was well-written, is interesting and was a joy to read. I am so glad Wenguang wrote this book to share some of his life and experiences with us. The language, culture and customs of China may be different from the U.S., but matters of the heart are universal, and this book was written from the heart. I definitely recommend this book and hope purchasers enjoy reading it as much as I have.
The irony of life bleeds through the pages. In some ways, it is so painful, it can only make you laugh. Through obedience comes disobedience, especially with family - both the one who raises you with their sweat and tears, and the one that governs your country.
The permanent influences of political unrest is prominent in Wenguang Huang and his family's life, but "The Little Red Guard" only reminds you that "small" family matters can still counter massive political movements anywhere in the world, China or otherwise.
All in all, "The Little Red Guard" is a fluid read and an easy hook to catch on to - a story you only hope will resolve. You don't need to know much about China, communism, or feel politically/socially enraged to understand and to feel the workings of a family living beyond just living, no matter the limitations.
The book is witty, fluent, and hard to put down once you started - and like watching a good movie, it lingers in your mind for a long time even after you finish it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Terrific, very human portrait of family life in China before, during and after the Mao years.Published 7 months ago by Laura Kait-Petersen
I really dislike stories about restrictions in living conditions. I am so glad that I live in a country with religious freedom. You can have religion or not to each his ownPublished 22 months ago by Josephine Clifford
This is a really wonderful book. I love how the story revolves around a coffin stashed in the living room. Very funny and poignant. I highly recommend it.Published on December 19, 2013 by Mark Brown
A very interesting true first-person account of growing up during changing times in China - in fact, times change often during this period. Read morePublished on December 2, 2013 by SelectiveReader
I had great anticipation before reading the book but was disappointed soon after. The writing was decent. Read morePublished on November 24, 2013 by Doc Lover
I went to hear this author speak in Los Angeles because he is the translator for Liao Yiwu (The Corpse Walker; God is Red). Read morePublished on August 6, 2013 by MH
An interesting memoir about growing up in communist China and the battle to retain some tradition. Family relationships and dynamics add to the story. Read morePublished on July 29, 2013 by penguin lady
I found the description of the political events in China, and the accounts of day-to-day life interesting, although I confess that I got quite impatient and annoyed with the... Read morePublished on June 27, 2013 by Natalie S. Cohen
I'm a retired history and geography teacher. I really appreciated the opportunity to share Huang's growing up years. Read morePublished on June 5, 2013 by Cheryl K. Steuerwald