Penelope's Reviews > The Little Red Guard

The Little Red Guard by Wenguang Huang
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Apr 05, 12

bookshelves: goodreads-first-reads, memoir, spring-12
Read from April 01 to 03, 2012

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

5 stars

I really enjoyed this book, and was surprised by how good it was. I say that because it started off a little slow, and I couldn't quite feel out where it was going. At first, I thought the coffin and Wenguang's grandmother's death was just an opening story--something to set the mood for the rest of the book. Those things, however, turn out to be at the heart of Wenguang's story, which is beautifully told with death, politics, and family at its core.

Wenguang's writing is straightforward and somewhat detached at times. When I think about it, the writing style is not one that I'm normally attracted to...but it works well in this story and Wenguang's subtle sense of humor often creeps in. Upon reflecting on his past and his family's history, it's clear that Wenguang came to a deeper understanding of who he is but was also able to move on--in a way that his ancestors never could. Although there is quite a bit of death, sadness, and suffering throughout the book, ultimately Wenguang triumphs and it ends on a positive note.

Mostly I was just amazed at the humble wisdom of Wenguang's relatives, especially his father, who seems to have had a sense of clarity about China's fickle political climate and cultural shifts. Perhaps most intriguing is how Wenguang uses death (as a concept and as an actual event in his family history) as a way to deeply examine Chinese culture, and what he describes as the "absurdity of human circumstance."

Anyway, this is a really great memoir--once I got about 1/4 of the way through, I could barely put it down and stayed up late last night finishing the last few chapters. Highly recommended.
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Reading Progress

04/01/2012 page 97
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message 1: by Diane (new) - added it

Diane Jealous. I did like the one book I have won-"The Why Cafe".


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