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Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  1,451 Ratings  ·  258 Reviews
The summer of 1972, before I turned nine, danger began knocking on doors all over China.

Nine-year-old Ling has a very happy life. Her parents are both dedicated surgeons at the best hospital in Wuhan, and her father teaches her English as they listen to Voice of America every evening on the radio. But when one of Mao’s political officers moves into a room in their apar
Paperback, 272 pages
Published September 29th 2009 by Square Fish (first published August 14th 2007)
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Saoirse It is about a young girl living in China in a difficult time. As I do not know much about history other than ancient times, I do not know what time,…moreIt is about a young girl living in China in a difficult time. As I do not know much about history other than ancient times, I do not know what time, but it is a very sad and heart-warming book.(less)

Community Reviews

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Ana Rînceanu
A smart, resourceful girl dealing with the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution.
The book Revolution is Not a Dinner Party is a wonderful story that tells about the main character, Ling’s experiment during the Cultural Revolution. She is just a normal and young daughter, only fifth grade when she gets isolated from her special friends and family members. Her life changes and changes how she reacts to people while surviving to live. She always imagines being with her special people once again; can she finally succeed being with her special people?
I adore this book because o
Mar 10, 2014 Mindy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
Really interesting book about a young girl's perspective on the Chinese Cultural Revolution from the 1960's to 1970's.

As I read this, I found myself feeling so thankful for the freedom of speech that we enjoy here in the U.S. We are so lucky. If our government/government leaders do something we don't like, we can say "I don't like this" to ourselves, to a friend, or to the world, and we don't have to worry about the government forcing us from our jobs/homes/families and sending us to prison or
Mar 28, 2015 Yukta rated it it was amazing
I'm really interested in biographies about people's lives in China. After reading Mao's last dancer I decided to read "revolution' I loved the book so much that I took it everywhere I went and finished it within a day. Mao's Last dancer and Revolution are one of my favourite books at the moment, they have got me more interested in Chinese history. I would love to read more books like these.
Jan 18, 2009 Patricia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While still reading this book, I am struck by the perspective of the young girl as she tries to figure out what is going on around her. Like many young girls, girls who I teach, she is mostly focussed on how the world is treating her: she is being bullied at school, people are disappearing around her, she can't have the things she wants, her parents are whispering. Kids I work with are becoming more and more aware of their surroundings, and I hope they are questioning the way things are. This bo ...more
Feb 16, 2010 GoldenjoyBazyll rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: DEFINATELY Jennifer
Recommended to GoldenjoyBazyll by: Betsy
Shelves: fiction

"A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery, it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, couteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another."
-from Chairman Mao's Little Red Book

6 years ago I spent a month in China. In Beijing- I spent time with a 90 year old woman in the Hutong. This woman was one of the few left to have had her feet bou
sweet pea
Jun 06, 2011 sweet pea rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
this is an unique perspective on the Cultural Revolution, watching Ling's family move from respected community members to outsiders. Ling is a great main character and puts events in perspective. the thing that annoyed me most was reading the author interview at the back. i feel like she should have written a memoir or changed things in the story a bit more. somehow i just found the similarities irksome.
Apr 11, 2015 Saad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ling lives in Maoist China, idolizing Chairman Mao. When she goes to her new school, she wants to fit in and be like everyone else, but her family are billed as bourgeois sympathizers, so no one dares befriend her. Even her old friends abandon her. When
Christine Marie
Jan 05, 2012 Christine Marie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cultural, History, FOOD Lovers
Recommended to Christine by: California Young Reader Medal
Shelves: read-for-cyrm

Nine-year-old Ling lives in China during the Communist era and is in a family that is very high at risk for punishment by the government. The book chronicles Ling's (the author's) life for about 3 years until things get a little bit better for her.

Let me just say first WOW. I mean really this
As I listened to a great production of this powerful, largely auto-biographical novel, two thoughts kept coming to mind: this was happening in my (largely care-free) teenage years, and wondering whether I would be able to survive such terrifying circumstances. Of course I knew of the cultural revolution in China, and about Chairman Mao, and that there was not freedom for the vast majority of the Chinese people. But I did not know what that meant: the fear, suspicion and chaos, the near starvatio ...more
Emma (Waffle Writer)
Wow wow. I really enjoyed this book! It's a middle grade book following a young girl in communism China under Chairman Mao. It was very heartfelt and touching, and it was clear that the author brought some of her own experience into her work which made the words even more powerful.
I loved learning a little more about Mao's culture revolution.
Mar 24, 2017 Kirsten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a great book! The main character, Ling, is such a creative character with so many different strengths! I loved it!
Mar 04, 2017 Ellon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
This book was a really interesting look into the Cultural Revolution of China (which I have to admit, I didn't know a lot about before reading this book). It reminded me of reading books that take place during WWII. Having the point of view be that of a young girl was an interesting voice because she was constantly questioning why things were happening the way they were.
Oct 01, 2016 Audrey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1st-quarter-log
It was okay. The characters were not that interesting, and the plot was thin.
Jan 21, 2012 Addie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Revolution is Not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine,
published in 2007 by Squarefish.
Grades: 5-9, Lexile: 740

This novel is set in China during the Cultural Revolution of the 1970s. Ling’s story begins in 1972 when she is almost nine years old, when things began to change in her life. Comrade Li, an officer for Chairman Mao, moved into her family’s apartment and this meant trouble for her parents, who were both doctors. As life became more and more restrictive, Ling and her family had to gi
Feb 18, 2016 Cam_L rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think that all 6th graders should read this book because it has good character development, is very suspenseful and has a lot of facts about the cultural revolution in China. These reasons are made even better because they are explained and experienced by a little girl. These are very good aspects to a book because it makes people want to read the book.
This book includes many true things such as, the re-education camps, the cultural revolution and rationing. In the cultural revolution, Re-Edu
Dante Kroener
Mar 02, 2016 Dante Kroener rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This absolutely great book is the best for a middle schooler because it tells you about china in the 1970s and about a little girl's life and about how she struggles and she has many challenges but she overcomes all of them.I Love this book because it has just the right intensity for a 6th grader and It is very exciting and inspirational and teaches you about the cultural revolution. The book really makes you realize how lucky you are to have food and water and a home. The book is very intense a ...more
Albert H
The author's message is one of hope in the face of adversity. In the case of this story, hope is represented by the Golden Gate Bridge. The atmosphere of Wuhan, China, becomes increasingly drab and grey during the course of the Cultural Revolution. The point of view belongs to a young teenager named Ling, who must put up with the scolding, vandalism, and public beating of her neighbors, friends, and parents. Other special characters include her father, a specialized surgeon who even got called f ...more
I really liked "Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party" by Ying Chang Compestine. The main topic and issue is China's Cultural Revolution during the 70's era. I think the author's purpose in writing this book is that she wanted to express how every government hurts the people and how she felt about it as a child and now.

The book started with Ling, a 9 year old girl who lived in Wuhan with two busy parents that both work at the best hospital in their community. She was not willing to eat her dinner, so
Jasmine Hawamdeh
This was a pretty good book. It was very unexpected but good. I picked it up because Mr.Gould recommended it to me and I encouraged myself to read it though because I knew nothing about Chinese history so thought it should be pretty interesting.

So the books starts a little before a culture revolution (by Mao Zedong). We meet a nine year old girl named Ling, and her parents are both doctors. Her father was taught by a doctor with Western view and (about freedom, and taking care of his patients no
Feb 23, 2015 16adinak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Multicultural Book Review (HAS SPOILERS)

My book is called Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party, and it is by Ying Chang Compestine. It is about a girl named Ling, who is about 9 years old. The book is set in 1972-1976 in Wuhan, China. The book is set in the time period when Chairman Mao was the leader in China. Chairman Mao is a tyrant in China. Ling and her family live inside an apartment, with two other families. Her mom and dad are professional surgeons, in the most popular hospital in Wuhan. Ev
It's between 3.5 and 4 stars, so I rounded up. This is on our school's summer reading list for kids going into 6th grade. Ling is 9 years old in 1972. Her parents are doctors at a local hospital. She describes her life, which is increasingly constrained by the directives of the Communist Party, and the brutality and small-mindedness of local officials. It was a little slow for me at a point in the middle, but otherwise easy to read, and the pace picked up after that.

The story is told from Ling's
Elizabeth Kysa Sedivy
Nov 25, 2013 Elizabeth Kysa Sedivy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: families
This book is set in China, 1972. Ling and her parents are well off in their community, however the Cultural Revolution was starting and everyone had to be careful of what they said, people were being accused of being antirevolutionary, their hope is to someday move to America. I thought this was an amazing book that was able to catch and reel me into the story. This book follows a young girl named Ling Chang in Wuhan, China. Both of her parents are doctors, her father is a known modern doctor th ...more
Seth Schouten
Apr 14, 2016 Seth Schouten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
History can be boring. History is presented through our textbooks and educational film as dates, names, places, deaths. But history isn't really any of those things. It’s life, it’s people living in the exact same world as we do. We are living history, and we don’t understand that.

This novel beautifully demonstrates living history; that ordinary people lived through all of the greatest events in the history of the earth. We might only learn about the most important people, but to truly understan
♥ Ashleigh ♥  contrary to popular belief i'm not actually mad!
This was actually really good, i think the thing i enjoyed most about this book was how we got to witness the revolution through Lings eyes – she didn’t understand what was happening being at such a young age, but i as an older reader who has come across story like this before understood what was happening around her, it was a good and believable insight to what i think would of happened to unsuspecting people going through something like this.
i love how we got to watch Ling change over the peri
Mrs. Nannini Crossroads South
Few periods in history have captured my imagination like the Cultural Revolution in China. Chinese culture has a long history placing value on education and the wisdom that comes with age. During the Cultural Revolution, however, having both a traditional education and rich life experiences was scorned. Most of the educated, accomplished professionals were sent to work camps in the countryside. Furthermore, young people were encouraged to turn against their parents and grandparents who were not ...more
Mar 01, 2016 Teo_2 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
High quality, masterpiece, suspenseful. This is how I describe one of the best and most depictive books written. From suspense to drama, this book has it all. Based in China during the Cultural Revolution, this book is perfect for teenagers all the way up to adults. Here’s why.
Even though this book is super educational, it has an unbelieveable amount of suspense and action. Though it starts out easy, later in the book even going to school is a challenge. All throughout the Chinese Cultural Revo
Apr 27, 2014 Alisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
Revolution Is Not A Dinner Party, By Ying Chang Compestine, is a book about the Cultural Revolution, in China. This book is a historical book about a child, called Ling, living though the pains and fear of the ruling of Chairman Mao. Mao started the revolution, which made some families die or send to labor camp. Ling’s father was a doctor, who was considered an anti-revolutionary, so were the other doctors. Most of the anti-revolutionaries were skillful and rich. After Ling’s father was sent to ...more
Stephen Gallup
Apr 15, 2011 Stephen Gallup rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is no shortage in our house of books about China's calamatous recent history. Even if there were none, I would feel that I had some insight into the subject, because my wife suffered through the Cultural Revolution there, as did the author of this very powerful story. My wife used to talk about putting her memories into writing as well, but I think they remain too painful for her, even now.

This is said to be a novel, but until the last few chapters it felt like memoir to me. Reading it, I
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Ying Chang Compestine was born and raised in China. The spokesperson for Nestle Maggi Taste of Asia products and a national authority on Chinese cuisine and culture, she is the author of three cookbooks for adults, eight picture books for children, and one young adult novel. She lives in California with her family.
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