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Recalling 2007's Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party, a fictionalized autobiography by Ying Chang Compestine, this memoir also offers a highly personal look at China's Cultural Revolution. The author is four years old when Mao initiates the Great Leap Forward in 1958, and she describes the transformation of the family's shared, once lovely courtyard as the neighbors follow orders to erect a brick furnace and feed it all their metals in an attempt to produce iron and steel. Everyone, including the child narrator, willingly cooperates, but the instructions are flawed and everything is ruined. The episode prefigures what follows: diligence is repaid with destruction, obedience with chaos, loyalty with treachery. Li effectively builds the climate of fear that accompanies the rise of the Red Guard, while accounts of her headmaster's suicide and the pulping of her father's book collection give a harrowing, closeup view of the persecution. Sketches about her grandparents root the narrative within a broader context of Chinese traditions as well as her own family's values, establishing a basis for Li's later portrayal of the individuals around her who respond to oppression with hope and faith in knowledge and education. B&w family photos reinforce the intimate perspective. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.