Benfu is a young man, worried more about his career as a violinist and an arranged marriage that he wants no part of, then the possibility of revolution. His family are intellectuals and teach in Shanghai. They know of the histories and the possibilities of the coming surge and how they must now begin to hide valuables and change in order to stay under the radar of those hunting for possible rebellion. They also understand how often the innocent can be targeted, and history supports the dangers inherent in the coming wave of assault.
Pony Boy, a member of the lower class, is Benfu’s best friend. Their futures are very different and they look at life in different ways. Together in the struggle of Political turmoil, they must both make decisions that can affect both themselves and their family. Thrown together in the chaos of revolution, they begin their own mission and rebellion against the red tide of Mao’s Red Guard.
Can they find a way to make their mark on history? Life moves quickly for both, and the tide turns ever sharply for their own families. Will they continue on their quest, or is all lost for themselves and their families.
Bratt has given us characters that begin in loving homes, Benfu, ready for university, and in the tradition of the country soon to be affianced. His best friend has a harder life and yet in both cases their innocence shines through. As the darkening of revolution begins it changes them and they both have to find a way to grow and live in the chaos created in the wave of danger and deaths. Bratt has given us a time of turmoil and has allowed us to watch the growth of these two youths into entirely different people then where they started.
The Revolution itself is well documented and the historical significance of Chairman Mao’s Red Guard leave fear in its wake. The danger and fear that come through the writing create discomfort and unrest, much as it must have been during the times. The addition of the danger is palpable, and adds to the chaotic feelings left after the reading of this work.
If you enjoy history, revolution, courage, romance and family, then this will make a great work for your library. Kay Bratt has given us a work of intensity.
This would be a great work for a reading group with an amazing array of information for discussion.