Customer Reviews for

Colors of the Mountain

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Colors of the Mountain

In the book Colors of the Mountain, a young boy named Da Chen grows up during a tough period in time. Born in 1962, the year of the Great Starvation, Chen is growing up in a time of hate, starvation, and communism as Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution was about to engulf ...
In the book Colors of the Mountain, a young boy named Da Chen grows up during a tough period in time. Born in 1962, the year of the Great Starvation, Chen is growing up in a time of hate, starvation, and communism as Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution was about to engulf millions of Chinese citizens, the Red Guard to enforce a brutal regime of unfair power and abusive force towards communism. Chen's family belongs to a despised landlord class and his father and grandfather are consistently beaten and sent to labor camps to be forced to work against their will. Growing up isn't easy without the man of the house to teach you right from wrong, and it is that reason that Da starts getting into trouble and befriends a gang of mischievous hoodlums. The decision he makes that saves his life is also befriending an elegant, elderly Chinese Baptist woman who teaches him English and how to become a friend to society without getting into trouble. Catching frogs, working in the rice fields, and feasting on oysters and peanuts in this tough era, Chen has it far from easy, or good. But thanks to the elderly woman, and the little bit of time he gets to spend with his grandfather and father, he grows up and lives a healthy, successful life.
The main part of the book that I liked was the main message portrayed throughout the book which is stay ahead of everyone else and stay on top of the influence when life gets tough. If Chen wasn't involved with a few certain people that saved his life, he wouldn't have made it through the Starvation alive. However, I strongly disliked how most of the book talked about Da Chen. The book is supposed to be about Da Chen and his life, but in my opinion there wasn't enough about the Great Starvation and the abusive authority suppressed upon all Chinese citizens.
If I were to say someone should or should not read this book, I would say read it. This book is a touching novel about a young, troubled Chinese boy that grows up to become a functioning, well, hard-working man. An overall rating of this book is an 8, for the fact that this is a heart written book that has made a career for an aspiring young man.

posted by Michael35 on February 9, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Fiction desguised as autobiography

I was excited to acquire the book after reading all the positive reviews. I wish I could get my money back now. It is, at best, a fiction desguised as autobiography. The story is full of holes. For instance, three years of great starvation ended in 1961,not 1962, as sta...
I was excited to acquire the book after reading all the positive reviews. I wish I could get my money back now. It is, at best, a fiction desguised as autobiography. The story is full of holes. For instance, three years of great starvation ended in 1961,not 1962, as stated in the book and Cultural Revolution started in 1966, not 1962, as stated in the book's front jacket. Then there is the 'heartbreaking' scene of him lacking 3yuan to pay for tuition because pigs were not ready for sale. Tuition and books were free in China. A landlord's family would not be allowed to have pigs. (My grandparents were landlords. Everything of any value was taken away.) The college entrance exam was extremely competitive the first year it was offered in 1976 after 10 years of the Cultural Revolution (I was the only one to pass the exam at my commune where about 300 took it). By 1977, the second year the exam was offered, the competition was not so fierce as Da Chen led the readers to believe.

posted by Anonymous on March 23, 2000

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  • Posted February 9, 2010

    Colors of the Mountain

    In the book Colors of the Mountain, a young boy named Da Chen grows up during a tough period in time. Born in 1962, the year of the Great Starvation, Chen is growing up in a time of hate, starvation, and communism as Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution was about to engulf millions of Chinese citizens, the Red Guard to enforce a brutal regime of unfair power and abusive force towards communism. Chen's family belongs to a despised landlord class and his father and grandfather are consistently beaten and sent to labor camps to be forced to work against their will. Growing up isn't easy without the man of the house to teach you right from wrong, and it is that reason that Da starts getting into trouble and befriends a gang of mischievous hoodlums. The decision he makes that saves his life is also befriending an elegant, elderly Chinese Baptist woman who teaches him English and how to become a friend to society without getting into trouble. Catching frogs, working in the rice fields, and feasting on oysters and peanuts in this tough era, Chen has it far from easy, or good. But thanks to the elderly woman, and the little bit of time he gets to spend with his grandfather and father, he grows up and lives a healthy, successful life.
    The main part of the book that I liked was the main message portrayed throughout the book which is stay ahead of everyone else and stay on top of the influence when life gets tough. If Chen wasn't involved with a few certain people that saved his life, he wouldn't have made it through the Starvation alive. However, I strongly disliked how most of the book talked about Da Chen. The book is supposed to be about Da Chen and his life, but in my opinion there wasn't enough about the Great Starvation and the abusive authority suppressed upon all Chinese citizens.
    If I were to say someone should or should not read this book, I would say read it. This book is a touching novel about a young, troubled Chinese boy that grows up to become a functioning, well, hard-working man. An overall rating of this book is an 8, for the fact that this is a heart written book that has made a career for an aspiring young man.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2007

    Triumph over Hardship

    Da Chen¿s ¿Colors of the Mountains¿ is the inspiring and heart touching story of his childhood during the communist revolution in China. His grandfather, being a landowner, had doomed the rest of the family to be pinned with ¿anti-revolutionary¿ banners. Now the peaceful and kind family has to suffer through various ¿punishments¿. All of his siblings had been banned from school, and his father was stuck in a reform camp while his mother struggles to feed the family. Da is constantly facing ridicule at school, and gets accused of ¿anti-communist¿ things, and is forced to face severe punishment for the acts he didn¿t even commit. Though Da is extremely bright, he is eventually forced to quit school, and in his time away from the books, he befriends some hooligans, and falls in love with western music. Eventually, he begins to learn English. He struggles, but somehow, he gets to the end of the path. This book contains perfect imagery and lots of different cultural tidbits. It¿s inspired me to do better with what I have, and appreciate my life a bit more. The beginning page of the story I consider to be a bit unnecessary, but other than that, I love everything about this memoir. I¿d suggest this book to anyone who¿s interested in culture, rags to riches stories, or just a good book in general. There¿s no chance for disappointment with this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2000

    A great book that touches the soul

    This is one of the greatest books I've read in a long time. Although some of the dates may be wrong, the details and journalistic qualities of this book are fantastic, especially for a Chinese teenager who wants to learn more about Chinese culture and its past.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2000

    Fiction desguised as autobiography

    I was excited to acquire the book after reading all the positive reviews. I wish I could get my money back now. It is, at best, a fiction desguised as autobiography. The story is full of holes. For instance, three years of great starvation ended in 1961,not 1962, as stated in the book and Cultural Revolution started in 1966, not 1962, as stated in the book's front jacket. Then there is the 'heartbreaking' scene of him lacking 3yuan to pay for tuition because pigs were not ready for sale. Tuition and books were free in China. A landlord's family would not be allowed to have pigs. (My grandparents were landlords. Everything of any value was taken away.) The college entrance exam was extremely competitive the first year it was offered in 1976 after 10 years of the Cultural Revolution (I was the only one to pass the exam at my commune where about 300 took it). By 1977, the second year the exam was offered, the competition was not so fierce as Da Chen led the readers to believe.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 1999

    Colors of the Mountain Rich and Rewarding

    Da Chen's COLORS OF THE MOUNTAIN is a rich and satisfying memoir of a young boy coming of age in rural China during Mao's Cultural Revolution. Young Da Chen starts off life with a handicap: he is the son of a landlord, and landlords are now shunned and ridiculed in this new society. No matter how bright he is in school, no matter how hard he tries to make friends, he is damned if is does and damned if he doesn't. We follow Da through a love affair with music, the stilted agony of beginning lessons in English, and ultimately, a triumph over a world which has condemned his family and their way of life. There are echoes of Solzhenitsyn here - man surviving in the white-hot heat of a stultifying, dehumanizing system which is more corrupt than anything we can imagine; and there are echoes of ANGELA'S AHSHES where, in the midst of tragedy and dire straits, raucus humor breaks through to remind us of how we are all essentially alike, and how ultimately, we must laugh at ourselves in order to survive. Young Da befriends a rough gang of boys who struggle with the peccadilloes of adolescence while finding ways to outwit the system and sharing an intense loyalty with one another. The characters are fully conceived and will stay with you long after you have finished COLORS OF THE MOUNTAIN. Da Chen's ingenuous prose is without self-indulgence, rich with evocative imagery which conjures rural China; and the colors are clear. His story is remarkable. I have recommended it to my fifteen year old son, as well as everyone else.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 31, 2010

    great book

    very funny and interesting

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  • Posted September 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This is a must read

    This book was totally absorbing and I learned a lot about pre and post revolutionary China. It was a personal story by a man who lives in the Hudson Valley. Da Chen has two additional books that would be very worthwhile to read. I am not a historian, usually liking just a good read, but I appreciated what I learned about a different culture.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2008

    Experiencing the Colors of the Mountain

    ¿`I did my homework as I always do, ¿ I protested loudly, `But the rain got it all wet. ¿ The whole class looked at me quietly. La Shan turned red. `What did you do with it?¿ He demanded. `It was messy, so I threw it in a manhole.¿ The class laughed. `What did you say?¿ `I threw it down a manhole!¿ I screamed back. `You threw Chairman Mao¿s Quotations into a stinking manhole? Do you realize how severe an offense you have just committed?¿ A deadly silence came over the class.¿ Colors Of The Mountain is a compelling memoir, telling the touching true account of Da Chen, growing up in communist China. Born in 1962, the Year of Great Starvation, he was constantly singled out and abused by loathsome teachers and children because he was prejudiced to the then-despised ¿Landlords¿ class, and was forced deal with the mistreatment and shame brought to his family. His father and grandfather 'who were indeed landlords, but not with the harsh view of others, as the post-revolutionary ¿Red Guard¿ assumed', were routinely beaten and forced to go into labor camps. Living on moldy yams and the hope for a better life, Da was regularly denied the right to go to school. In his struggle to fit in and ultimately live in the small seacoast village of Yellow Stone, he became friends with many unlikely people and learns that with a little hope and a lot of determination, you can climb over the zenith and truly experience the vivid colors of the mountain. I found his rich rural scenery and potent, poetic language most empowering, from catching frogs and chasing birds through fields to stealing away in the dead of night to escape public humiliation. The story of a young boy¿s dreams to become successful inspired me, and most likely many others, to follow your dreams. I would recommend this book to everyone and anyone who loves adventure and suspense, to those who love to learn of a world far away from their own, and to the people who just want a good read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2007

    Inspirational

    This book is amazing. Very strong and real, Da knows exactly how to get into the hearts of the readers. Reminded me of my own childhood in a communist country. I couldn't put the book down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2004

    Great Book, Inspires me to work harder in School!

    This Book is very good, Da chen has such a ambition for learning close to my own ambiton to learn also. I love the way the author made me feel I felt to attached to the Character, Wish I could give it more then 5 stars!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2004

    Colors of the Mountain

    The book, Colors of the Mountain by Da Chen, is about a young boy who is the son of a landlord. Landlords in those days were very poor people can literally spit on them or beat them up. The story talks about the life of Da and all the hardships he goes through in life. Da lives in a family of nine; one brother, three sisters, his grandparents, and his parents. He was being continuously kicked out or denied to continue to go to school. <br> <br> I like this book because the story is very strong. It will hit almost every emotion you have in your body. From sad, happy, or to angry, it will get there at some point. I really like it when there is a happy part to the book. I like it because it made me feel really happy for Da. <br> <br> What else I like about the book was the detail of the story. The story had a lot of detail which made the book a lot easier to understand. The storyline was also a great part of the book. The book was very unique, the story had the same concept as other books but different because it was set in China. I recommend this book for everyone to read. You will enjoy it as much as I did.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2002

    What an inspiration

    This was an amazingly inspiring book. Although Da had been completely discouraged throughout most of his youth life, he used it only as motivation to get out of where he was. Writing from Southern China right now, I have seen so many parallels in my every day life to the experiences he describes here, as far as the education system and the government. He has given me the inspiration to pursue my own education further as well as better understand of the China I am living in today. Thanks Da!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2002

    Outstanding writing

    This is a wonderfully written book in the same genre as Wild Swans and Son of the Revolution. Da Chen's language is beautiful, and his story is very inspirational. It made me want to read the sequels as soon as I had finished this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2002

    A real story

    An enchanting story which tells how a person in the worst position can always get out when they reach for their dreams.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2001

    Angelas Ashes meets Huck Finn

    Incredably moving and funny coming of age tale set in China in the early 70's. Destined to be a classic - should be on every High School reading list. Can't wait for the sequel!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2001

    Unimaginable Triumph Catapulted By Courage, Determination And Love

    I have read a multitude of books that are similar to 'Colors of the Mountain', however the fact that this true story is told so poigantly through the eyes of an innocent child, pierced my heart endlessly. The homor was light enough to give the story real balance. Most of all, the hard cold facts of China during the time of the Cultural Revolution, no matter how many times I may have read it, I always seem to be quite shocked. Perhaps the most difficult to believe, is the cruelty of mankind. I loved this little boy and could not rest until I knew his fate.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2000

    I simply enjoyed this book.

    If you are looking for a good story with interesting historical fact then this is a good book to choose. It seems the biggest problem people are having is whether or not everything Da Chen says he did in this book is true or not. It does seem like he is destiny's child in the book because he seems to be able to do anything. But so what! It makes for a better story. The book brings you up and down right when it should. I learned a lot about some aspects of China that I didn't know before. They were comfirmed by some Chinese friends.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2000

    Gripping Tale of Overcoming Challenges

    Chen's memoir is absolutely inspiring. Although I knew I should be studying for my exams, I couldn't help but read it until the end! I got caught up in the challenges that he faced. This is a very rewarding read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2000

    Best Book (besides Chinese Cinderella)

    I though this book was extraodinaryily compeling,

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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