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
Devastating portrait of brutal political movement.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 9 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bytommysportsgirl April 9, 2008

A life-changing book!

Every American child should read this!! This is one of those books you can never forget- sad, moving, and heart-breaking!
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 July 19, 2014

Really awesome

I think this is an emotional book and I like how it is actually REAL, and it makes everything clear about the Cultural Revolution. I read this book when my mom... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byhotfertea February 16, 2009

I got bored

This book is very boring. I do feel pity for her life and what happened but she makes it sound so boring. If you have no life or friends or awareness of whats f... 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

For kids who love history

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