Most people cannot remember when their childhood ended. I, on the other hand, have a crystal-clear memory of that moment. It happened at night in the summer of 1966, when my elementary school headmaster hanged himself.
In 1966 Moying, a student at a prestigious language school in Beijing, seems destined for a promising future. Everything changes when student Red Guards begin to orchestrate brutal assaults, violent public humiliations, and forced confessions. After watching her teachers and headmasters beaten in public, Moying flees school for the safety of home, only to witness her beloved grandmother denounced, her home ransacked, her father's precious books flung onto the back of a truck, and Baba himself taken away. From labor camp, Baba entrusts a friend to deliver a reading list of banned books to Moying so that she can continue to learn. Now, with so much of her life at risk, she finds sanctuary in the world of imagination and learning.
This inspiring memoir follows Moying Li from age twelve to twenty-two, illuminating a complex, dark time in China's history as it tells the compelling story of one girl's difficult but determined coming-of-age during the Cultural Revolution.
Snow Falling in Spring is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
About the Author
MOYING LI, one of the first students to leave China for study abroad after the Cultural Revolution, came to the United States in 1980 on a full scholarship from Swarthmore College. She holds an M.A., an M.B.A., and a Ph.D. She lives in Boston and Beijing.
Read an Excerpt
From Snow Falling in Spring
In front of Baba’s eyes, they flung book after book onto the stone floor. One of them reached into a lower shelf for Baba’s rare books. Dragging them out by their silk strings, he yanked them open.
“Please,” Baba pleaded, trying to free himself from the hands of his guard. “Don’t touch those.”
The guard pulled Baba’s arms back and tied a rope around them.
Then the soldiers dumped all our books into large hemp sacks that they pulled from the back of the truck. “The paper factory will turn this trash into pulp in no time,” they announced. When Lao Lao tried to plead with them, a soldier just pushed her away. Dragging the sacks through our gate, they flung them, one after another, onto the open truck. Then, hurling Baba on top of the bulging bags, the soldiers drove away in a cloud of dust, leaving my grandmother filled with sorrow . . .
With our neighbors’ help, I cleared the rubble. After everyone had left, I closed the door and all the windows and sank to the cold stone floor, my face buried in my arms. The sun was setting, and darkness was creeping into the house.
Our bookshelves now stood naked in the shadows— like proud but defeated old warriors.
Table of Contents
The Great Leap 3
Lao Lao and Lao Ye 22
The Gathering Storm 42
Home No More 61
House Search 78
Mongolian Melody 86
Secret Reading Club 98
Coming of Age 109
Hunan Mummy 116
A Life Assigned 122
Temple of the Sun 129
The Awakening 140
Turning Point 151
A Chronology 166
A Message from the Author
I feel very fortunate that my memoir, Snow Falling in Spring, will be published just a few months before the 2008 Olympic Games, which will be held in the city of my birth -- Beijing.
As Pierre de Coubertin, the modern father of the Olympic Movement, once said, "The foundation of real human morality lies in mutual respect -- and to respect one another it is necessary to know one another." The 2008 Beijing Olympics, and the time leading up to it, offers an unprecedented chance for China to interact and communicate with the rest of the world.
Overall, from the increasing media focus to the fast-growing commercial and cultural interactions, it is evident that the world has fixed its eye on China for quite some time. This attention will only intensify with the Summer Olympics. It's estimated that 4.5 million people from around the world will visit Beijing in 2008, in addition to billions of others who will tune in via satellite television.
I believe that, in true Olympic spirit, a better understanding of human commonality and shared vision will emerge from this engagement. And I hope my book, in a small way, will help toward reaching that goal.
China has undergone remarkable transformations since I left it in 1980 to go to college in the United States. Back then, China was rather isolated from the Western world -- having just emerged from the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution. Now, in the space of only two decades, China has become the third-largest economy in the world, and soon it will surpass those of Europe and North America combined.
With opportunities come new challenges -- issues many Western countries also encountered during their industrialization process, including: how to preserve the architectural and other cultural heritages in the race for urbanization; how to come to grips with such environmental issues as pollution and traffic congestion; how to handle the social-economic impact of a vast migration of people from the country to the cities.
There is a lot of thinking and work ahead for China, but China will never be alone again. By reflecting upon its own past, and learning from the experience and expertise of other international communities, China stands a much better chance now than ever before. And as someone who has lived in both China and the United States for the same amount of time, I am hoping to offer my experiences and the perspectives generously given to me by both countries through my memoir, Snow Falling in Spring. --Moyong Li
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I read this book as it is on the reading list at my daughter's middle school. I can see how it would be appealing to teens learning about China's Cultural Revolution. The fact that it was written by someone who had actually lived through it makes the memoir even more appealing. Strongly recommend for teens and adults alike.