In 1962, as millions of Chinese citizens were gripped by Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution and the Red Guards enforced a brutal regime of communism, a boy was born to a poor family in southern China. Da Chen, the youngest child, seemed destined for a life of poverty, shame, and hunger. He befriends a gang of young hoodlums as well as the elegant, elderly Chinese Baptist woman who teaches him English and opens the door to a new life. Chen’s remarkable story is full of unforgettable scenes of rural Chinese life: feasting on oysters and fried peanuts on New Year’s Day, studying alongside classmates who wear red armbands and quote Mao, and playing and working in the peaceful rice fields near his village.
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