Revolution is Not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine is the sleeper hit of my library this semester. It sat on my new releases shelf for a while, unchecked by students.
One afternoon, as I prepared for a booktalk, I stared at the book, wondering what had made it stand out to me when I made my purchasing order.
Imagine a world where George Bush put his face on posters all over the country, required everyone to have a picture in their home, and stopped work halfway through the day to listen to his teachings.
Thankfully we have a president and not a Chairman Mao.
It’s the cultural revolution and Ling watches as her community gets torn apart, with trusted friends joining the Red Guard and her dad thrown in prison. What I love about the book is that it’s based on the author’s real-life experiences, as scary as they are.
When I emphasized this to the students that I did the booktalk to, they were shocked that something like this could happen. In one example her dad, a respected surgeon, is accused of being an enemy of the state. He gets demoted to janitor, but works on people during the nighttime for those that would not be treated by state hospitals. To know that Compestine’s real dad took risks like this blows me away at his level of compassion and selfless love.
Interestingly enough, I booktalked this to a class beginning Anne Frank, with the Hitler Youth/Red Guard comparisons (and the whole dictator thing). I also connected it to Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix , with Population Police and general censure and seizure.
Now the book’s starting to get the action it deserves.
- Posted by The Tallest Librarian Ever