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Compestine, Ying Chang. Revolution is not a dinner party.

COMPESTINE, Ying Chang. Revolution is not a dinner party. Read by Jodi Long. 4 cds. 4.75 hrs. Listening Library, Random House. 2007. 9780-7393-6161-0. $14.00. Vinyl; plot, author, reader notes. J S *

Nine-year-old Ling lives with her doctor parents in Wuhan during the Cultural Revolution in China. Daily life is difficult but becomes worse when Comrade Li, one of Chairman Mao's political officers, takes over her father's study and lives there. No longer can they listen to Voice of America broadcasts, except under a heavy blanket. Ling's English lessons are not as free as they once were. Food, clothing, and freedom are rationed and very scarce. Considered bourgeois by her schoolmates, she becomes the subject of heavy bullying. The neighbors are bullied too and hauled away to prison and labor camps. Over the four years of the novel, Ling suffers much without always knowing why. Her father is imprisoned; Ling learns to fight the bullies, and scrounge and lie for food; and she never learns entirely how to suffer quietly. Eventually things change for the better--almost at the last moment in the story--a nice dramatic touch. This is based on the author's own life, which accounts for the verisimilitude and telling details, from food to household tasks, clothing, school and hospital. Jodi Long uses gentle tones for Ling and harsher, almost metallic tones for the villains, especially Li. There is a subtle Asian inflection to her speech and her narration complements and adds to the well-written text. Mary Purucker, Beverly Hills PL, Beverly Hills, CA

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Author:Purucker, Mary
Article Type:Audiobook review
Date:Jul 1, 2008
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