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Red Scarf Girl

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  10,540 ratings  ·  1,452 reviews
"Ji-li's deeply moving story should be on the shelf of every person's library. Her courage in the face of adversity and her steadfast loyalty to her family are truly inspirational for young and old alike." --Nien Cheng (Author of A Life and Death in Shanghai)
Paperback, 285 pages
Published 1999 by HarperTrophy (first published 1997)
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Yu Ji-Li characterise her childhood before her twelfth birthday as happy, just like the meaning of her name Ji-Li (lucky and beautiful), because her…moreJi-Li characterise her childhood before her twelfth birthday as happy, just like the meaning of her name Ji-Li (lucky and beautiful), because her parents and paternal grandmother expected her to be a happy girl. Its a quiet sad story, but its true. 'Black' class people were treated the same way during the Cultural Revolution in China.(less)

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3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,540 ratings  ·  1,452 reviews

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Dec 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Terror seen through the eyes of a twelve year-old girl, this is a memoir of the Cultural Revolution as much as a truly harrowing horror story where relatives & friends betray each other for no reason. The zombification of the Chinese under Mao's rule is distinctively awful, a mindset and time that must never be repeated (but under Trump's potential presidency, possibly might*).

*Oracle time!-- wow do I feel dumb now.
May 21, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those interested in China's Cultural Revolution
What to say about this...sometimes I have to resist the urge to review every book that I read. Then I think about the fact that I didn't review it, and I think, "Oh, just review it. Say something. Say anything." Not that people are just waiting to read what I and everyone else thought of it, but I feel that I should at least say something about it. After all, people do search for books to read and all the reviews pop up underneath them, so if they are interested enough to click on this book, the ...more
Sep 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who cares about freedom
Recommended to Natasha by: LEMI
Shelves: history, young-adult
A revealing tale of how people will gradually allow more and more of their freedoms to be taken away when they are pitted one against another. That was Mao's genius--keep the masses in constant revolt between classes.

Mao was so revered that, as a youth, the author questioned her parents rather than the establishment. Her response to the difficult choice forced upon her (to choose her family or the party) is a powerful lesson. A well written book for her intended audience (youth).

My daughter re
Nov 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who's interested in China's cultural revolution
Many Americans, myself included, have an opinion about China, Communism, or most likely both. What most of us have neglected to do is explore how valid our opinions are. Ji-Li Jiang's memoir was written for children, and because she is a teacher her book is very accessible for most elementary school-age kids. It's no less interesting or valuable for adults, though, simply because we are not her intended audience. Red Scarf Girl brings us with Ji-Li as she grows up in the height of China's cultur ...more
Sep 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I've only read a few books that center on the Cultural Revolution in China. This one is different in that it's a memoir and focusses very specifically on 2 years of young girl's life when she's 12-14 years old; very impressionable and insecure years for many girls, under normal situations.
Mao's Cultural Revolution was mayhem, from what I've gathered from the few books I've read. People denouncing neighbours, people being wary & afraid of speaking out, people being pronounced "black" (not wi
Katie Gallagher
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Check out my reviews on my blog!

“Life is stranger than fiction.” Reading this unassuming-looking middle-grade book from 1999 really displays the truth of that statement. The Hunger Games, Divergent–none of these modern popular dystopian works come even close to the impact of Ji-li Jiang’s Red Scarf Girl. As Ji-li takes us through her life during the start of China’s Cultural Revolution, the fabric of Chinese society crumbles day by day. Heartbreak and destruction are constant, as homes are ransa
Duffy Pratt
Mar 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, childrens
A young adult memoir about growing up in Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution. In many ways, her background was similar to my wife's, so from this standpoint it was quite interesting.

One step at a time, opportunities, luxuries, friendships, and even family relationships are stripped from her. It's done in the name of advancing the revolutionary spirit. While this is happening, she sometimes questions the authority and motives of the people implementing the policies. But she never thinks to q
This book is powerful for me because it happened to a girl my age who was born in China. I wonder if I could have been as strong as she was. Chairman Mao had them all fooled, and I wonder when (not if) it will happen again. I read "The Children's Story, " by James Michner to my class to start this book. It seems real to me and them. Who now would give up his or her summer to work for the country? Who would stay up all day and night to work on a project for shcool? Who would walk right by his gra ...more
Nov 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: YA
Shelves: biography, history, ya
Ji-li Jiang writes of a terrible time the history of China and in her life. Everyone was so enamored and "brainwashed" by Mao's greatness that the Chinese began to change the way they thought, dressed, acted and were educated----and if they didn't, they were seen as Four Olds to be humiliated in front of family and friends by teen guards that had become revolutionized to do Mao's good work. Her family went from a success story to being blamed for a grandfather being a landlord which was consider ...more
Dec 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Very informational. I have such a love and fascination for Chinese history, that I really enjoyed it. I kept thinking, wow, we are so close to this in the US! I hope I've prepared my children to stand up for their heritage!
Horace Derwent
Jun 17, 2018 marked it as to-read
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really sad book for me, the author who is just a few years older then me, had to go through this while I grew up obliviously on the other side of the world watching Star Trek on TV and going to summer camp. The 13 year old girl was sent to a farm commune and worked close to death.

(view spoiler)
Fran Sobrido
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Es el primer libro de literatura china que leo y me ha encantado. La historia está ambientada en la China de finales de los sesenta, en plena dictadura comunista y durante el período inicial de la llamada Revolución Cultural. En él la autora Jiang Jili nos expone las duras vivencias que tuvieron que soportar tanto ella como su familia por pertenecer a una familia en la que el difunto abuelo era terrateniente (además de las falsas acusaciones de "derechista" que se vertían sobre el padre), lo cua ...more
I gave Ji-li Jiang's memoir of her life, Red-Scarf Girl:A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution four stars (really liked it) because of the way her story was told. This book is intended for readers in grades 5-9, which is quite a span, but I would say it is most approriate for grades 7-9. Jiang lets readers in on her life, and allows them to experience how she changes from a girl that was proud to be a product of her country to a young woman who comes to question everything she believes. I found it ...more
Jul 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, memoirs
At times it was hard to remember that this book is a memoir and the horrific acts I was reading about not only really happened, but they happened to a young girl. While I've read better writing, the story was so powerful it was able to transcend my feelings about the prose. When I started the book, I knew nothing about the Cultural Revolution in China, so I had no idea what to expect. Having finished the book, I can make comparisons to the Cultural Revolution in Iran, as in Persepolis, and the H ...more
Hattie Foster
Sep 18, 2013 rated it liked it
This book stated to drag on. Not to mention that I found two grammatical errors and I was like 13.
Nov 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have so many questions and so many thoughts after reading such a grueling book, especially when you know that this is a true story written by the protagonist herself. I can't believe that my grandpa went through this too! If I was her, I would've given up already. This book is kind of like Salva's story, a civil war. Although the cultural revolution wasn't a war, it certainly seemed like one, because of all the gruesome things that happened to the prisoners in China. The title of this book, "R ...more
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
In this memoir Ji-li Jiang tells the story of the beginning years of the Cultural Revolution in China when she was between the ages of 12 to 14. Her grandparents had been "landowners", thus they were labeled as such and did not merit a good class status. The hardships they endured, the manipulations that were used, and the ways in which people took advantage of others during this time is shockingly sad. How Mao manipulated the people of China during this time period is widely known and accepted ...more
Nov 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A great memoir from a child's p.o.v. on living through the cultural revolution. Everything I know about the Cultural Revolution I learned from books like this. My lame Seymour High School education never even touched on Mao Ze-Dong, China, Asia, or any other culure aside from our young American culture and a small portion of Europe's, and only then when it had anything to do with our own. I am completely self-taught on all (important) things historical that were not quickly and poorly glossed ov ...more
Jul 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
What I like about this book is that it keeps us very tightly confined to the story of pre-teen Ji-li. This does not try to explain the larger context of the Cultural Revolution; it does not try to make us understand what was happening in Beijing. And that makes her story all the more terrifying. Just as history is difficult to understand when we are caught in its tides, following Ji-li we only know that the world is changing in ways big and small, that the world is growing colder and more fright ...more
Tareq Fares
ليست رواية بمعنى الرواية بل سرد للأحداث التي عاشتها الكاتبة في أيام الثورة الثقافية في الصين وما وقع عليها من ظلم هي وعائلتها بسبب كون جدها كان صاحب أملاك.

السرد للحكاية ممتاز ولكني وجدت مشكلة في متابعة أسماء الشخصيات لكونها تتكون من ثلاثة أجزاء معظمها متشابه.

يمكن ربط الأحداث مع أي تغير ثقافي يحدث في أي مجتمع بدعم سياسي (بالقوة) فتظهر مع تلك القوة فئة تفرض ثقافتها على باقي افراد المجتمع والأخطر هو ظهور فئة لا هم لها الا البحث عن مخالف لمضايقته باي وسيلة يملكها حتى يثبت انه المؤمن الوحيد بالفكر ا
Chaltu B
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is about Red Scarf Girl. She was born in Shanghai, China, in 1954. I had to read her book. In her book, I had read good and sad history. This book could teaches me many things and remind me my older brothers and sister.
Ji-li was really strong girl and her life teaches me many things. For example, patience, and tolerance. When her classmates and her teacher influenced her, because of her family background, she had to be patient and she had to respect them with tolerance. Her behavior
Jun 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Where I got the book: purchased on Kindle. This was read for my daughter’s Book Wizards group (composed of cognitively disabled adults) and I actually borrowed her Kindle Fire so I could experience Whispersync immersion reading, where you hear the audiobook narration and the ebook follows along. I found the process a bit slow, as I clearly read much faster than the narrator, but it was kind of relaxing and it did focus my mind on the book. I read much of it in the plane, and found listening thro ...more
Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 365, favorites
“ السماء و الأرض شيء عظيم ، لكن الأعظم منها هو حنان الحزب الشيوعي ، و الأب و الأم عزيزان ، لكن الزعيم ماو يفوقهما معزة ” حين يكون هذا نصاً يتلوه الحزبيون الشيوعيون و يؤمن به الأطفال في عميقهم و ينشئون عليه ، لن يدهشك بعدها اللامنطق الذي سيقود شعباً بأكمله ليساق كالخراف خلف الرئيس ماو ، راضين قانعين كمؤمنين صادقين بالخلاص الذي ينتظرهم على يده ، و حتى بعد أن انكشفت الغمة واتضحت الكثير من الألاعيب الحزبية و حُوكم الثوريون المتسببين بالأضرار الفاجعة في الثورة الثقافية ، بقي الكثيرين وحتى المتضررين م ...more
Jan 06, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, nonfiction
I would give this book three and a half stars if Goodreads would allow it. I found this book to be very enlightening. I don't know very much about the so-called Cultural Revolution in China's not-so-distant past. Ji-Li Jiang gives the reader a heartrending insider view of the localized and very personal impact and hardship imposed on the people of China by the Great and Supreme Tyrant Mao Zedong and his collaborators. I cringed while reading the book to see how easily neighbors turned against ea ...more
Oh my goodness, this book touched my heart. My daughter is reading it for a history course she is taking this year called Key of Liberty. I always pre-read any books my daughters are assigned as part of a course. I had never heard of this book or Ji Li Jiang. But I am SO glad I have read it now. I knew surface stories about the Chinese Cultural Revolution, but had never studied it. This book made me cry. I cried for Ji Li, I cried for the Jiang family, I cried for the children & families put ...more
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I first read this book in middle school because it was on the Battle of the Books reading list. Prior to reading the book, I thought the Cultural Revolution referred to some clothing movement (sadly this is also a common misconception amongst Chinese youth). I devoured the book. Keep in mind that this really is a young adult novel and not as deep as most other books about individuals or families living through the Cultural Revolution. The author was a young teenager at the start of the movement ...more
Kyle Storie
Mar 31, 2015 rated it did not like it
I must say, I am getting more and more disappointed with the schools choice of books to teach their curriculum. It's an absolute disgrace! I feel that by having adults find books they think kids and teens would want to read and be able to relate to, is a complete waste of time. I am aware however that they do their best, but none the less, it's not enough. This was one of six books that we read for class and by far this was the most tedious and poorly written. I feel I would learn more about the ...more
Vince McCollum
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read this with my students. It was so great to see their reactions as we were reading to a completely and utterly insane time period. As an adult, I wish it delved more deeply into the political turmoil happening in China with Chairman Mao. However, I appreciate the book's ability to stick to Ji-Li's personal account. I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants to see how a paranoid, narcissistic, and totalitarian leader stays in power...or just tune into American current events as they unfold.
Morgan Echtenkamp
The cover of this book did not draw me in, but it came with a great recommendation from a friend/our school librarian. I really enjoyed every page of it! I also learned so much about China under communist rule that I did not know anything about. It is a true story about the author's life in China from the ages of 12 to 14. I would highly recommend this book to any of my students. It was a quick, enjoyable, and informative read!
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Coming from Shanghai, China in 1984, where she used to be a school science teacher, author Ji-li Jiang studied in Hawaii then worked as a corporate Operations Analyst and Budgeting Director for several years. In 1992, she co-founded East West Exchange, Inc, a company created to promote and facilitate cultural and business exchanges between China and the western countries.

Ji-li’s first book, Red Sc
“I thought about my beautiful dreams and wondered if they would drift away just like those lovely soap bubbles.” 5 likes
“I was willing to take on the struggle to establish myself in a new country because I knew that was the price I would have to pay for the freedom to think, speak, and write whatever I pleased.” 3 likes
More quotes…