Bright Swallow, a young girl labelled as of ‘bad origins’ in Mao’s Cultural Revolution, becomes motherless at fifteen in 1972. Determined to live a full life like her mother had known, she seizes every chance, creates choices where there appear to be none and finally has the world open up to her. She travels the country, listening to banned music, reading forbidden books and retelling their stories. Sent to the countryside for re-education, she transforms her rural exile into a voyage of discovery. In the midst of these tumultuous times, Bright Swallow discovers that simple human kindness still exists.
This beautifully written memoir distinguishes itself from other accounts of this period in being a story of hope. It celebrates resilience, the power of literature, music and the imagination; and pays tribute to the people who retained the fundamental decency that can easily disappear in adverse circumstances.
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