This is one of the best books I’ve ever come across, and I’m giving it a big pump-up here because I want it to be read. It’s hard for us living in the United States to imagine a society where too much intelligence is considered dangerous and being part of an upper-class family is a crime. But that is exactly how it was in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s in China. Ji-Li was a pre-teen when Chairman Mao came into power, and watched as the Communist Party attacked the upper class and exalted the lower class in an attempt to make everyone equal. Her life was lived in fear of the Red Guards, who searched upper class homes for signs of the “four olds”–old ideas, old customs, old culture and old habits. If they found any symbol of the four olds such as ceremonial robes or family heirlooms, it was destroyed and members of the family could be imprisoned. It was a frightening time, and even though Ji-Li tried to be a good Communist and embrace the ideals of Chairman Mao, she couldn’t forget her intelligence, her heritage, of the fact that her father was imprisoned just because his family owned land. You’ll definitely have a new appreciation for the freedom you have as an American teen of the 90’s after reading this powerful memoir.