Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party
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Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  864 ratings  ·  188 reviews
Nine-year-old Ling is very comfortable in her life; her parents are both dedicated surgeons in the best hospital in Wuhan. But when Comrade Li, one of Mao’s political officers, moves into a room in their apartment, Ling begins to witness the gradual disintegration of her world. In an atmosphere of increasing mistrust, Ling fears for the safety of her neighbors and, soon, f...more
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published August 21st 2007 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Seoyeon Shin
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...more
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...more
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 5 of 5 stars
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...more
To summarize this book, it is a story about a girl called, Ling during revolution and the sudden change in her life. Once, she had a peaceful life, eating rich foods, having large amounts of presents for her birthday, and hanging around with her friends. However, one day, revolution soldiers –the red guards- erupted China and ruined her life.
There are two reasons why I like this book. Firstly, this book had taught me about Cultural Revolution and I learned new, interesting facts from it. The se...more
sweet pea
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.
This was a fascinating read. The story is told through the eyes of 9-year-old Ling. She lives in Wuhan, China, with her parents, who are both doctors. She narrates how her life changes during the reign of Chairman Mao, revealing her questions and fears as the comforts and security she had previously known came to an end.

Although this is written as a novel, author Ying Chang Compestine grew up in Wuhan, China during the Cultural Revolution, and this novel is based on experiences from her childho...more
Sarah Foote
The book is a historical fiction novel that is set at the end of the Cultural Revolution in China. It tells the story of a young girl who was raised in an upper class family that has to face persecution among other things during the revolution in communist china. The book gives you an insight into what many families had to go through simply because they had higher quality of living. It also shows you how her family was harassed not only by adults but through the school as well. It's a great book...more
Today we think of China as a strong growing country with relative freedom and a fairly prosperous economy. However when the author was growing up in China during the waning year of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, things were much different. This is a difficult story to read. It is about the struggle when food was scarce and is rationed, electricity is interrupted. Because her father was taught Western medicine he is not popular with the Maoist. Her parents lose their jobs, and a political officer mov...more
Charlotte A
This book is an amazing and eye opening read, that everyone should know about. I first read this boom in 2011 and have since re-read it. I was surprised at how much more I understood and noticed. Ling at first seemed shallow, only seeing how something affect her, herself, and her mother. I now understand so much more, making this a better and more enjoyable to read. The way the author writes this book, especially in the beginning, makes it seem as if nothing is wrong, and you have to have a de...more
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
Sweet Tears
A book that opens the eyes of people around the world. To see what the world was truly like. To see the way people suffered from a perspective. Many history books only cover the surface of what life was really like to live in a society that has ruined your life. This book has given more than the history books that we read. It made me want to cheer on for the main character as she fights or feel her anger as someone mistreats her. I felt like the story came to life within me. It was wonderful and...more
Maya Yerramilli-Rao
I liked this book as it taught you how to deal with change and how the world around you can impact your life so much. Ling has to deal with the transition from being completely oblivious to the outside world and the war, to having to be involved in at as someone living with her was. I thought it was well written and it tells a great story but educates you as well on the Chinese revolution. It wasn't boring to read, and I learned a lot which is a good sign! I do recommend it as long as you are wi...more
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
♥ Ashleigh ♥  contrary to popular belief im 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...more
Rebecca Radnor
Short & well written: Cultural revolution/almost the exact same story as Red Scarf Girl: Memoir of the cultural revolution by Ji-li Jiang. The parallels are in fact kind of stunning. Red scarf girl is autobiographical, while dinner party is a fictionalized account of events experienced by the author. Red scarf girl's father had been a famous actor, Dinner girl's father was a famous doctor. Both girls were top students who teachers tried to protect from the red guard bullies.

At the end of th...more
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...more
Nov 17, 2008 Jess rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jess by: Practicum booktalk selection
Based on Compestine's own life, this book follows Ling through four years of the Culture Revolution.

A good glimpse into the cultural revolution for junior high kids (although I wish she would have started with Ling at 10 or 11 -- nine look and feels young for a book meant for junior high kids.) Believable but sad.

However, the most intriguing part of the book was in the author's note. Compestine wrote: "I started this book when my parents passed away. It was then that I realized how much I miss...more
Stephen Gallup
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...more
Mar 17, 2012 Marie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Cultural, History, FOOD Lovers
Recommended to Marie 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...more
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...more
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...more
Elizabeth Kysa Sedivy
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
This is a story about a young girl growing up in communist China. She is struggling as one of the main communist men moves into her house. At first she is pleased with the communist movement even though she hears her parents whispering negatively about it. Soon enough, her friends, family and comfort ability of life are taken from her as she as seen as an enemy of the revolution. She has no food, no father, and is being beat up at school because the kids think that she is against the movement. I...more
"Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party" is a truly amazing read. Based on the childhood experiences of author while growing up in Communist China during the Cultural Revolution, the story is verging on non-fiction. I finished it in one day, which rarely happens with me. I couldn't put it down and every time I was forced to, all I could think about was returning to it. I'm pretty picky with what I read and harsh when it comes to voicing my opinions of them and honestly, this book quickly became one of...more
Abby Johnson
Based on actual events from the author's childhood, this novel tells the story of Ling, a young girl growing up during China's Cultural Revolution. Her whole world is turned upside down as people she loves are taken away, food becomes scarce, and her classmates torture her for being part of the bourgeois.

I've always had an interest in China and I thought this was a fairly accessible glimpse into the Cultural Revolution. Content-wise, I think it's appropriate for middle schoolers (though there i...more
Roxanne Hsu Feldman
I can see quite a bit of curricular tie-in for Chinese history at the middle school level, and it is a solid companion to Red Scarf Girl. The story does not shy away from some of the more gruesome reality of the Cultural Revolution. However, to highlight very few people, Comrade Li, and a couple of bullying students at school, as the prosecutors of the intellectuals and the middle-class seems to not portray the nation-wide, whole cultural madness in its full effects -- and potentially leaves you...more
Paige [eastIndies.]
This book was quite inspiring and a wonderful, quick read. I couldn't stop turning the pages and I enjoyed every bit of it. It was often quite sad and excruciating to read how the Cultural Revolution affected those who were deemed as such "burgeouis sympathizers." It was especially disheartening to read this all from a very young girl's point of view. Ling, not even 13, tells this heart-wrenching story but is one of the strongest heroines of a young adult novel that I've ever come across. I love...more
Apr 19, 2012 Marti rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: teen
This story is based on the author's childhood during the Communist/Cultural Revolution in China in the mid 60's to mid 70's. I am embarrassed to admit that I really didn't know much at all about this event in Chinese history. While the mass killing of intellectuals and anyone else who opposes an authoritarian leader is unfortunately nothing new, it's an important history to know.

The author does such an amazing job of describing what life was like for the more educated/elite members of Chinese s...more
I think Mrs. Compestine is a brilliant storyteller and she writes from her heart. Although she did mention at the back of her book that this book is a work of fiction, yet some of the events and experiences she described through the main character sounded very real to me. I could recall similar stories and events told to me by my father as well as family relatives during the Cultural Revolution.
I think this is a very compelling book to read and would highly recommend to anybody who is interested...more
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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.
More about Ying Chang Compestine...
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