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by Ying Chang Compestine


School Library Journal:

Gr 4–6— This story takes place in Wuhan from 1972 to ’76, during the waning years of the Cultural Revolution. Nine-year-old Ling’s doctor parents see their friends fall victim to the Red Guard and eventually they, too, suffer betrayal, job loss, hunger, and incarceration. Ling fears the cutting of her long (bourgeois) hair; she vows to keep it as an act of defiance, but loses it to lice instead. The simple sentences, episodic structure, and child’s perspective convey just enough context of this complicated period to inform readers without bogging down the narrative. Ling’s experiences (based on the author’s own) seem authentic as she worries about her father’s disappearance and tangles with school bullies, before the satisfying conclusion. This novel will introduce children to a time and place likely to have an exotic allure, while Ling’s affection for her father and slightly tense relations with her mother humanize her and help readers empathize with her plight.—Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George’s School, Newport, RI –Patricia D. Lothrop (Reviewed August 1, 2007) (School Library Journal, vol 53, issue 8, p112)


  • ALA Notable Children’s Books – Older Readers Category: 2008
  • Parents’ Choice Awards – Fiction: 2007
  • Texas Tayshas Reading Lists: 2008
  • YALSA Best Books for Young Adults: 2008



4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, Cultural Revolution, Historical Fiction, Teen