Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution

Book review by
Cindy Kane, Common Sense Media
Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution Book Poster Image
Parents recommend
Devastating portrait of brutal political movement.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 11 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Will make readers curious to know more about the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Parents and teachers may want to check out the author's website to help readers put the book in some context.

Positive Messages

A poignant memoir of one person's experiences during China's Cultural Revolution. Themes of faith, strength and courage lighten up what can only be described as a difficult experience.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ji-Li Jiang is a true hero who shows great courage. Readers will appreciate that she honestly relates her experiences as a child a complicated time, her growing conclusions about what was happening around her -- and the difficult choices she had to make.

Violence

Ji-Li's grandmother is slapped in the face. Descriptions of beatings and suicides are included.

Sex
Language

Mild expletives are used several times.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this a memoir of a girl growing up during China's Cultural Revolution and includes details about beatings and suicides. Ji-Li Jiang paints a clear and devastating portrait of a brutal political movement that ruined many lives -- and had a deep impact on her family. The engaging story makes young readers want to know more about the subject. A helpful glossary translates foreign words and phrases used in the text.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymsimmo9814 March 29, 2019

This is the worst book EVER Don't Waste you time

I think this book is trash more bad than a Sponge bob book
Parent of a 2, 4, and 12-year-old Written bymominashoe March 30, 2011
My son read this for his 6th grade Pre-Ap Language Arts class. He said he liked it just fine. I read some of it to him and it left me wanting to read the whol... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old November 21, 2019

Probably the best book I have ever read

This is a really emotional and touching book. The only thing I wish is that there was a sequel or a prequel!
Teen, 13 years old Written bySunMeadow June 11, 2019

Wonderful Story

I really enjoyed this novel! It deals with some difficult times involving the cultural revolution, and some details of the story were difficult to comprehend. T... Continue reading

What's the story?

In her memoir of growing up in Shanghai during China's Cultural Revolution, Ji-Li Jiang paints a clear and devastating portrait of a brutal political movement that ruined many lives -- and had a deep impact on her own family. The engaging story makes young readers want to know more about the subject.

 

Is it any good?

Torn by conflicting emotions, author Ji-Li Jiang is the perfect guide to the complexities of the Cultural Revolution, which many readers will encounter for the first time here. She struggles to be a good Communist almost to the end of the book, even trying at one point to change her name to avoid being identified with the landlord Jiangs. At the same time, Ji-Li is too intelligent to ignore the ironies and contradictions in her tormentors' dogma. Jiang's writing sometimes strains for effect, and the narrative ends abruptly, but the story is engaging.  She is a true hero who honestly relates her experiences as a child in a complicated time, her growing conclusions about what was happening around her -- and the difficult choices she had to make.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about personal memoirs. How do stories like this impact the way we learn history? What are the advantages and disadvantages in learning about events this way?

  • Also, can you think of other memoirs by young people who lived through dramatic or terrifying events? What are some other historical autobiographies you would be interested in? Check out Common Sense Media list of recommended books on this page for some ideas.

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history

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