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From The CriticsSet during the Cultural Revolution in China, this theatrical novel is both a tragic love story and a parable that illustrates the corruption caused by political and moral fanaticism. After saving a young female fishmonger from a ruthless crook, Wild Ginger, a fourteen-year-old orphan, is honored by Chairman Mao Tse-tung, who appoints her the commander-in-chief of the Red Guard, a position that requires her to become "the people's servant." When she falls in love with a fellow revolutionary, she is forced to choose between herself and her political ideology. Wild Ginger revisits the themes of Min's bestselling novel Becoming Madame Mao. Its plot is as formulaic as an opera, and its tragic heroine's fate is melodramatic. What redeems this book is its narrator, Maple, the confidante of Wild Ginger. Ultimately, it is Maple's insight and touching devotion to her friend that steal the show.