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My Name Is Number 4: A True Story from the Cultural Revolution
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My Name Is Number 4: A True Story from the Cultural Revolution

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  238 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
Number Four will have a difficult life. These are the words that were uttered upon Ting-xing Ye's birth. Soon this prophecy would prove only too true. . . .

Here is the real-life story about the fourth child in a family torn apart by China's Cultural Revolution. After the death of both of her parents, Ting-xing and her siblings endured brutal Red Guard attacks on their scho
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 2nd 2008 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 1st 2007)
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Jun 02, 2016 Maddie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-books
Enlightening, honest, and unforgettable.


"A powerful and passionate memoir for [all] readers, Ting-xing Ye tells, through the eyes of a child, the moving story of growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution.

When Ting-xing Ye was born her aunt declared, “Ah Si shi ge lao lu ming” – Number Four will have a difficult life – for the signs were unlucky. Events soon bore out this cruel prediction.

Here is the true story of fourteen-year-old Ting-xing’s tumultuous life turned upside down
Aug 30, 2015 Steven rated it really liked it
If you're looking for an in depth analysis of China's Cultural Revolution under Mao, then this is not the book you're looking for. It's not in depth and it analyzes nothing much. You'll come away with no greater understanding of the Cultural Revolution than you had when you first picked the book up - and that's all right. Analysis was not Ting-Xing Ye's purpose. This was a personal memoir; a relating to the reader of what life in China during the Cultural Revolution was like. Ting-Xing Ye was no ...more
Aug 17, 2014 Chip rated it liked it
I am guilty, as are most Americans, of being hopelessly myopic about other cultures. I read books like "My Name is Number 4" in an effort to combat my limited horizon and was not disappointed. I feel more attuned to the depredations, privations and tragedy that the "Cultural Revolution" inflicted on the individual. I could feel the author's pain and hopelessness throughout the book. Even at the end, when the author had escaped to the West and was free, the reader couldn't escape the sense that Y ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Apr 19, 2010 Jennifer Wardrip rated it really liked it
Reviewed by hoopsielv for

An old proverb says: When at home, depend on your parents; when away from home, rely on your friends.

Ah Si, which means number four, was told this by a beloved teacher when she was sixteen and about to leave for a prison farm.

The author was born into a capitalist family in China. Her father was a prosperous business owner who was forced into becoming a laborer. His sudden death caused the family to take drastic steps to survive. The older children needed
Jan 24, 2015 Sam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My Name is Number 4 , by Ting-xing Ye is an inspirational story that everyone should read. The author, otherwise known as Ah-Si, endured Mao’s Cultural revolution at the young age of fourteen. She went through the ostracism of being a capitalist, the brutality of the Red Guards as well as the stringent labor camps. She was unbreakable. She marched as a communist soldier, she worked back breaking hours in the rice paddies and she survived many diseases in the hope of living to see her family agai ...more
Oct 14, 2015 Sardonyx rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was pretty incredible. I've read some of the history of China with respect to the Cultural Revolution and Chairman Mao's reign but to get some insight on it from a girl who grew up in it was eye-opening. I felt so much for her when her life would keep getting derailed by whatever ridiculous imperative the politicians were pushing threw at that moment. It really shouldn't be too much to ask to want to live in a safe place, with your family, to get a decent education and to not be condem ...more
Every account I read of the cultural revolution is more bleak than the last. Holy cow. What an existance. I can't believe they still have Mao on their money. The whole thing is so crazy. I'll never not be shocked by it.
Elliot Ratzman
Perhaps not the best memoir about China’s insane Cultural Revolution, but it is certainly enough to make you appreciate the freedoms that come with, oh, not living in a totalitarian society. The race-like stain of her “capitalist” family remains on the author and her four siblings, orphaned in Shanghai but taken care of by a family servant. The author experiences the Cultural Revolution firsthand as it tears apart the fabric of her rigid communist society. Her teachers are humiliated and her sch ...more
Ting-Xing grew up during a particularly bleak time of China's modern history: the Cultural Revolution. Despite her family's incredibly poor circumstances (with both of her parents dead and five children to feed), in middle school she is labeled "bourgeoisie" is tormented and ridiculed because her father had owned a factory before the communist take over. As the political climate gets more and more fevered, Ting-Xing is soon exiled to a prison camp as a laborer, to help "ease overpopulation in th ...more
Aug 16, 2010 Louise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
When Ting-xing Ye was born her aunt stated: “Ah Si shi ge lao lu ming” meaning that “Number Four will have a difficult life because the signs were unlucky”.

It wasn’t long before Ting-xing would find out how true those prophetic words would be. Her life was soon turned upside down due to China’s Cultural Revolution. Ting-xing and her four siblings lost both their parents and it was shortly after that their lives changed forever. Her family’s home was attacked by the Red Guard’s as well as their s
Nazywam się numer cztery to wspomnienia Ting-Xing Ye z czasów klęski głodu i Wielkiej Rewolucji Kulturalnej w Chinach. Ting-Xing Ye jest córką właściciela fabryki. W wyniku obowiązkowej nacjonalizacji, państwo przejmuje fabrykę ojca. Ojciec Ye popada w depresję, ciężko choruje i wkrótce umiera. Wdowa zostaje sama z czwórką dzieci i wkrótce też podąża za mężem. Sierotami zajmuje się przyszywana babka. Rodzina Ting-Xing z zamożnej staje się bardzo biedna. W dodatku dzieci czekają szykany w związku ...more
I really enjoyed this book. Ye's experiences often came to the forefront of my mind as I went about my day. The ending did seem a bit would have been interesting to learn more about what happened to members of her family (perhaps her other memoir goes into greater detail; My Name is Number 4 is geared towards young adults). Reading this makes me want to read more personal histories focusing on the Cultural Revolution.
Florence Liu
Similarly to Chinese Cinderella, this book was interesting as I found out more about my heritage, the cultural revolution, and what it means to be Chinese. The plot was interesting and I felt a connection to the author, but the writing was "meh". I think this book was a worthwhile read, but not one of my favourites.
Laura (booksnob)
This is a memoir of Ah Si's experiences growing up during The Chinese Cultural Revolution. The Cultural Revolution lasted 10 years. Educated people were sent to the country to be "re-educated". Many families were forcibly displaced and young adults were sent to rural regions to work. This was a time of major social and political upheaval in China.

Ting-Xing Ye includes many Maoism's from his "Little Red Book" in her memoir. You will be amazed at the resilience of Ah Si and her siblings and how t
Apr 01, 2010 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok, I just read 'Falling Leaves', about a Chinese girl whose family pretty much hated her. The hatred was so powerful that it was almost unbelievable. This book was a more realistic family, even though both books are non-fiction. Disclaimer: I'm not Chinese, so when I say 'realistic' I mean that it would be more realistic in American terms.

Anyway, I've heard about the Cultural Revolution in China a lot. However, I really never understood it. Nor could I figure out if Chairman Mao was a good guy
Lindsay Caron
Jun 29, 2009 Lindsay Caron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This memoir is an absolute must-read. Ting-xing Ye was born in China at the start of the cultural revolution and after the attack of the Red Guards is forced to leave with her family to a prison camp. Despite losing both of her parents, almost dying herself from starvation and having lost everything she once knew and loved, Ting-xing continues to fight for her life and those of her siblings. She is a pure demostration of what courage is and I found her to be inspiring. I had very little knowledg ...more
Isabel Hogue
Jan 01, 2016 Isabel Hogue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy reading accounts such as this one, of how people experienced and survived the Cultural Revolution in China during the 1960s.
Oct 01, 2013 Ragna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A chilling true story. I was taught about the cultural revolution in school. But it never meant more to me than a term.

This book gives you an insight in the years of madness the Chinese people endured o so recently. Not 'just' the ten years ('66-'76) that supposedly span this revolution, but it gives you a glimse of the events (like the Long March in the '30s and the Great Leap Forward in the '50s) that created the climate that coloured, shaped and destroyed so many many lives in the 20th centu
Very interesting to read about what Mao's Cultural Revolution was really like for the citizens of China. Referring to your siblings by their birth order number felt odd to me. "Number 4" truly endured much injustice and even torture during her time on the prison farm, this, after getting through a difficult childhood without parents. I found her "Great Aunt" an interesting person - she favored Number 4 yet never told her she loved her. Number 4 was strong and endured what she had to. Glad to rea ...more
Alyssa Archambo
I wasn't able to put this book down. The events are well-depicted and at times, simply horrifying. While this was definitely written to a young adult audience, it is a book that anyone with an interest in history and the struggle to live in a hostile environment would enjoy. At times I thought the narration was choppy and the way in which time goes by somewhat vague, but it wasn't enough to lose my attention.
Jul 22, 2013 Brittany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is difficult for me to review a autobiography. I found this to be a quick read, although it was still interesting and at times intense. The reason I gave it 4/5 is that I felt it ended abruptly and I wished to know more of how her life was like after the book as compared life she lived in the book.
Jun 05, 2010 Elias rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quick read, autobio that reads like a novel, describing the author's life as a teenager caught up in the cultural revolution in China, branded as a capitalist, with all the inanity and violence and oppression and propaganda being sent away to a prison farm to plant rice in salt flats.
Jul 21, 2009 Kathleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating, disturbing story. The ending left me wanting a bit - it ended rather abruptly, kind of rushed. In any event, great historical read - a real-life Orwellian 1984. Made me really think of the effect of our modern-day media too.
Nov 17, 2010 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The fourth child in the family, Ting-xing Ye was a teenager during the chinese cultural revolution. Because her father had been a businessman she was considered a counter-revolutionary and subjected to scorn, punishment and degradation.
Rachel Morgan
Jul 07, 2009 Rachel Morgan rated it liked it
A little dry for a personal account of the Cultural Revolution. I've read a few others (Wild Swans was a great one) that were more touching, somehow. It could be because this is an abridgmenet of another work.
This book was really touching and I was literally screaming over the story.

Apr 28, 2012 Andrea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china
A young girl suffers through the changes of the China's Cultural Revolution, living on a prison farm at age 16. Well-written for young adult readers.
Jan 18, 2010 Mary rated it liked it
This is an approachable description of the Cultural Revolution, easy to read, would probably be particularly good for middle or high schoolers.
Apr 06, 2011 Joy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
interesting. reminded me of book "wild swans" by jung chang... probably due to the similar period of history with the cultural revolution.
Tatiana Povoroznyuk
This is a wonderful book. Ting-xing's story is very inspiring, and the writing style was awesome. I literally couldn't put it down.
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Ting-xing Ye, author of the best-selling memoir, A Leaf in the Bitter Wind, was born in Shanghai, China, in 1952, the fourth of five children born to a factory owner and his wife. At sixteen she was “sent down” to a prison farm during the Cultural Revolution, spending six years there before being admitted to Beijing University. She took a degree in English Literature, then began a seven year caree ...more
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